USED & White House
Helping Kids and Families get Free High-speed Internet this Back to School Season
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Dear Colleagues,


I am sharing the information below and ask that you share this with your districts and others in your state who may be interested. 


As America’s kids get back to school and continue to recover from the challenges of the pandemic, ensuring that all families have access to affordable high-speed internet is more important than ever. That’s why we are writing to make sure you know about a new federal program available to the kids and families you serve: Millions of families can now get free, high-speed internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program by signing up at


Here is the U.S. Department of Education’s Affordable Connectivity Program “Back to School” Toolkit, which provides actionable recommendations – and a ready-to-use Backpack Flyer – that schools and community partners can use to help students and their families sign up. 


The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides eligible households up to $30/month off internet bills (or $75/month on Tribal lands), as well as a one-time $100 discount off a laptop, tablet, or computer. To further lower costs, the Biden-Harris Administration secured commitments from internet service providers across the country to offer high-speed plans that are fully covered by the ACP – meaning millions of working families can now get high-speed internet without paying a dime.


Nearly 40% of U.S. households qualify for ACP, but millions of families have yet to claim their benefit. Households are eligible if they make up to 200% of the federal poverty level ($55,500 for a family of four), and are also eligible, regardless of income, if they participate in certain federal programs. Critically, households qualify for ACP – without regard to income – if any member of the household: 


  1. 1. participates in the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch or Breakfast program, including a child who attends one of the over 33,000 Community Eligibility Provision schools; or 

  2. 2. is receiving a Pell Grant this school year.


Families also qualify if someone in the household participates in Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, WIC, Supplemental Security Income, and other programs.



As a trusted community partner, the Department of Education asks that you help us spread the word to families in your community this “Back to School” season. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Distribute backpack flyers letting families know about the Affordable Connectivity Program and ready-to-go backpack flyer is available here (with an editable version here). You can also use the Federal Communication Commission’s ACP outreach tools to spread the word in your community.

  • Include a link to on websites that students and families use frequently – for example, your organization’s homepage.

  • Spread the word through social media, text messages, bulletin boards, or other channels. You can share these social media graphics across FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, as well as example social media posts in English and Spanish.

  • Host digital navigators at events that students and families attend. Many local organizations – like nonprofits and libraries – are digital navigators who can help families sign up. For example, the Department of Education back-to-school bus tour included an event with digital navigators

  • Include reminders in other communications to families. When communicating with families, a simple “P.S.” about the Affordable Connectivity Program and is an easy way to raise awareness.


Thank you for your attention and helping share this information.




About the Author

Patrick Rooney is the Director of two offices--Evidence-Based Practices Assessment and Accountability and School Support and Accountability within ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before this recent appointment, Mr. Rooney was the Deputy Director of the Office of State Support.  Prior to joining the Office of State Support, Mr. Rooney worked in the Implementation and Support Unit, where he helped lead the work of the Reform Support Network, providing technical assistance to states implementing comprehensive Race to the Top reforms, and the Race to the Top Assessment program, which provided grants to groups of states to develop new assessments aligned to state’s college- and career-ready standards. Mr. Rooney also worked in the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education, where he was a senior policy advisor and worked on a wide variety of K-12 issues in the District of Columbia.