Eighty percent of families who qualify for help paying for internet bills have not applied, according to the FCC. The "Emergency Broadband Benefits" launched this past spring, offering families and individuals affected by COVID-19, help accessing the internet.

According to MediaJustice, more than 19 million families that qualify are still not enrolled.

"The internet, post COVID-19, and I know we're still in the pandemic, the internet in some ways, is the most important kind of utility we have in our lives," said National Organizer for MediaJustice Brandon Forester.

"It's for families trying to do work, it's for families trying to go to eviction hearings to make sure they can stay in housing. It's for telehealth so they can get access to health care needs without putting themselves and their families at risk," Forester explained.

The Emergency Broadband Benefits program offers families who qualify $50/month toward their internet bill. It also offers a $100 discount on the purchase of a computer or tablet.

It's especially helpful these days for families with students attending classes online or completing and turning in homework over the internet. A problem that became even more evident as schools were forced to do at-home or virtual learning. Families without the internet could not provide their students to attend school.

"There was a study last year that over 3 million students just disappeared from the schools' rosters," said Forester. "That wasn't 3 million students who couldn't attend classes. That was 3 million students schools just have no idea what happened to."

The Emergency Broadband Benefit program opened this spring but continues to enroll families. There are many qualifications that make a family or household eligible. Here are just a few:

  •  Households with at least one child eligible for free or reduced lunches.
  • Households with at least one student receiving a Pell Grant.
  • A household that experienced significant loss of income since March 2020 and whose total household income is below $198,000.
  • An individual who experienced a significant loss of income since March 2020 and whose total income is under $99,000.

To find out if you or your household is eligible for the benefits, click here

MediaJustice has more information on its website mediajustice.org.