Nearly two-thirds of Missourians who are eligible for a program that reduces their internet bill have not enrolled.
The state Office of Broadband Development is encouraging residents to register for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which can take up to $30 off monthly internet bills and up to $100 off the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer or tablet.
Households with income at or less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines -- approximately $36,420 for single income households and $49,280 for double-income households -- are eligible for the $14.2 billion program. Households in which someone uses SNAP, Medicaid or WIC, or receives a Pell Grant or free or reduced school lunch, also qualify.
Approximately 1,010,422 Missouri households are eligible but only 356,814 are enrolled, according to EducationSuperHighway, a national nonprofit the state broadband office recently partnered with to increase adoption rates.
At 35 percent, Missouri's adoption rate lags the national average of 39 percent. In Jefferson City, approximately 27 percent of the 6,209 eligible households have enrolled.
"As we continue to expand broadband access in our state, the Affordable Connectivity Program is another resource available for Missouri households," Gov. Mike Parson said in a news release. "Alongside our historic investments made in broadband infrastructure, this program is helping achieve a more connected future. We appreciate the efforts of partner organizations like EducationSuperHighway in ensuring every Missourian has access to quality, high-speed internet."
EducationSuperHighway launched its Missouri ACP Act Now initiative in an effort to help close the digital divide for households who have an internet connection but cannot afford service. The nonprofit will partner with cities, counties and community organizations to promote the Affordable Connectivity Program. It offers an online pre-enrollment tool at GetACP.org/Missouri.
"EducationSuperHighway and its promotion of the Affordable Connectivity Program is playing a valuable role in connecting all Missourians," Missouri Broadband Director BJ Tanksley said in a statement. "The support of organizations from every corner of our state is vital to expanding broadband access. We're proud to work alongside a diverse range of partners to overcome barriers to full participation in the digital economy."