WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Friday, Sept. 9, the agency is now accepting applications for ReConnect Program loans and grants to expand access to high-speed internet for millions of people in rural communities across America. More than $1 billion will be available through President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, part of which is an attempt to connect every American to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.
The pool of funds available is portioned as follows:
- $150 million in loans
- $700 million in grants
- $300 million in loan/grant combinations
The deadline for submitting an application for the ReConnect Program is November 2, 2022. To learn more about the program, click on the link to the Federal Register (specific information begins at the bottom of the first page shown).
Applicants awarded funds through the ReConnect Program will be required to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ACP ensures that rural households in need of internet service can afford it by offering a discount of up to $30 per month towards internet service to qualifying low income households and up to $75 per month to households on qualifying Tribal Lands.
For applicants to be eligible for consideration for ReConnect Program funding, the applicant:
- must serve an area where high-speed internet service is not available at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload).
- must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area.
In rural South Carolina, you may qualify if:
- you are a single person earning less than $27,180 or are a family (4 persons) with a household income less than $55,500.
- you apply through a government assistance program (such as SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit Program, etc.)
- connect with a participating provider (searchable by zip code)