Financial help available for broadband for tens of thousands of Nebraska households

Small Towns

By Deborah Van Fleet, Public News Service-Nebraska 

Many Nebraska households still lack broadband service, and a number of them qualify for monthly assistance with their bill.

More than $14 billion has been allocated through the Affordable Connectivity Program, part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act.

Jillian Linster, assistant policy director at the Center for Rural Affairs, said they have heard from a lot of rural residents in Nebraska and across the Midwest looking for support to get broadband. Sometimes it is related to infrastructure but also affordability, and only about a third of Nebraskans who qualify have enrolled.

"There are over 196,000 households who are still eligible for this broadband payment assistance," Linster pointed out. "The ACP program is one of the most effective ways that the federal government is countering some of those affordability issues."

Linster said the program provides a $30 monthly credit and $75 for households on qualifying tribal lands. It also includes a one-time $100 credit toward a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. People can register for the program at, and Linster added many internet providers will help with enrollment.

Vanessa Castro, director of broadband and digital equity for the Southeast Nebraska Development District, which received the grant to promote sign-ups in Nebraska. She noted the government's online sign-up requires qualifying documentation and is a two-step process.

"You have to turn in a document that shows that you're in that qualifying program, or a pay stub to show your salary," Castro explained. "Once you do that, then you have to wait for them to get back to you and say, 'Yes, you qualify.'"

Castro noted a few of the qualifying programs are Medicaid, SNAP, or having children on free and reduced-price lunch. The family income cap is 200% of federal poverty guidelines. She stressed an email address is required.

Castro said another sign-up option is the nonprofit Education Superhighway, which is focused on increasing enrollment across the country.

"You just go on there, and they'll walk you through what documents you need and how to prepare for the application," Castro stressed. "It's very easy. It's called"

She estimated as many as 500,000 more Nebraskans could gain broadband access if every eligible household is enrolled.

Click here to listen to the interview.

For more on the Affordable Connectivity Program, watch this episode of the Rural Rapport: