When you are a student, either boarding colleague far from home, experimenting high school
for the first time or find yourself in the middle of middle School — juggling the responsibilities of education, no matter the level, can be difficult. Whether you’re participating in remote learning or back on campus, you’ll need a reliable and affordable Internet connection. Those aren’t cheap, but there are some broadband discounts available that could help ease the financial burden on you and your family.
Start by looking at federal broadband programs
Before delving into provider-specific offerings, start with federal programs that may be helpful no matter which Internet service provider serves the area in which you live or go to school. If you or someone in your household participates in Federal Public Housing Assistance, the National School Lunch Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or other qualified federal programs, you may be eligible.
The first thing is Life linea program that has been around since 1985. It is often seen as a program for old people — participation in Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income are among some of the requirements — but Lifeline aims to offer assistance to all low-income households. That makes it a viable option for families with K-12 kids or solo college students. Eligibility factors include income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or participation in federal assistance programs such as FPHA or SNAP.
Once you qualify, you get a discount of $9.25 per month on your internet bill. That’s $111 a year off your broadband costs.
If you qualify for Lifeline, you are also eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program, a government subsidy program established by the Federal Communications Commission. Qualifying individuals and households will receive a monthly discount ($30 per month or $75 per month for those on tribal lands) on the cost of broadband service from participating ISPs.
You can use the ACP for the programs listed below, which may fully cover your monthly charge. Or you could also use ACP to help pay for a faster plan with more megabits per second.
Now, without further ado, here are some of your options.
This program offers affordable Internet for families and students in qualifying low-income households (including those who qualify for NSLP, SNAP, Head Start, and WIC, among others). Features download speeds of up to 50Mbps for $10 per month, with the first 60 days free. There are no contracts, credit checks or setup fees.
Read our Astound broadband review.
This program offers download speeds of up to 100Mbps for $30 a month or less for limited income households within the 21 AT&T states. There are no contracts, data overage charges, or setup fees, and AT&T provides a free Wi-Fi modem. You can apply through the Head Start, NSLP, or SNAP participation or income statement.
Read our AT&T home internet review.
AT&T Home Internet
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Participants in this program will receive download speeds of up to 100Mbps for $10 per month. This is for families with school-age children (K-12) receiving government assistance (including NSLP, SNAP, TANF, or public housing). Cox offer includes no contracts, free installation, free access to Wi-Fi hotspots and free Wi-Fi modem rental. This plan comes with a data cap of 1.25TB.
Read our review of Cox Home Internet.
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Mediacom’s offer shares a name with Cox’s low-income plan, but it’s a different discount program. Features download speeds of up to 25Mbps for $10/mo or 100Mbps for $30/mo. No deposit required and no contracts. Its installation, equipment rental and Wi-Fi modem are also free. To be a qualifying household, you must have at least one student in K-12 and at least one child in NSLP.
Read our Mediacom home internet review.
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For $15 a month, participants will receive download speeds of up to 50 Mbps, as well as a free router and modem, unlimited data, free setup, and no contracts. You may be eligible if you or someone in your household participates in the NSLP or is a New York City resident attending a New York City public school.
Read our Optimum Home Internet review.
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This special program is available to K-12 students who are enrolled in the NSLP. The application process usually goes through school administrators, but parents and guardians can apply on behalf of their child’s school. All eligible students will receive 100 GB per year and a free mobile hotspot for at least five years. There is also the option to use your money’s worth ($500 a year) for a larger data plan and pay the rest out of pocket. Considering the average household uses more than 400GB a month, that’s probably the way to go for most families.
Read our review of T-Mobile Home Internet.
Verizon is offering discounted prices on its Verizon Fios internet plans to college students enrolled in an accredited public or private degree-granting university or college. You can save up to $10 per month on the provider’s 100% fiber optic plans if you’re an actively enrolled college student. However, you will first need to confirm your eligibility on the Verizon site and make sure Fios is available in your area.
Read our Verizon Fios home internet review.
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Xfinity is offering college students an offer to get up to $100 in a Visa Prepaid Card and receive free self-installation. More details will depend on your area and verification of your student status. This offer is not available to students living in on-campus housing.
Read our Xfinity Home Internet review.
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This plan offers download speeds up to 50 Mbps for $10 per month and no setup fee for NSLP, public housing, SNAP or TANF participants. There is also an Internet Essentials Plus tier with 100Mbps for $30/mo. Likewise, it includes free equipment and requires no contract or credit check.
Read our look at Xfinity vs. AT&T.
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Frequently asked questions about Internet offers and discounts for students
Will AT&T give students a discount on Internet service?
AT&T does not have a specific home internet discount program for students. They have a discount plan called Access by AT&T that is geared toward households with Head Start or NSLP participants.
This is not to be confused with AT&T wireless plans, which offer discounts based on school or college eligibility.
Does the government offer free internet?
Not explicitly, but essentially it is possible to get free internet from the government using the Affordable Connectivity Program. This is a government subsidy program established by the Federal Communications Commission that provides qualifying households with a monthly discount on the cost of Internet service.
Once you qualify, you can use the ACP ($30 per month for most households, $75 per month for those living on tribal land) with participating ISPs. From there, you may be able to select a plan where the ACP amount fully covers your monthly charge. So in a sense you would have free internet from the government.
What internet providers offer broadband plans for $10 a month?
Cox’s Connect2Compete offers 100Mbps for $10/mo, while Mediacom’s Connect2Compete is also $10/mo but for 25Mbps. Astound Broadband offers a 50Mbps plan for $10/mo with their Internet First program and Xfinity’s Internet Essentials plan is 50Mbps for $10/mo.