Updated November 23, 2020:
On November 16, 2020, the FCC released two orders pertaininng to Lifeline service:
- An order extending the Lifeline rules waivers cited below that were set to expire on November 30, 2020. The order extends the waivers through February 28, 2021.
- An order addressing minimum service standards for fixed and mobile broadband. Effective December 1, 2020, the mobile voice usage minimum is 1,000 minutes; the mobile broadband mininum service level is 3G or better, with a usage allowance of at least 4.5 GB; and the fixed broadband minumum speed is 25/3 Mbs (upload/download), with a usage allowance of 1,244 GB. Additionally, effective December 1, 2020, the order decreases the monthly benefit for Lifeline voice-only service, and for broadband service that doesn't meet the broadband minimum standard, from $7.25 to $5.25.
Updated September 14, 2020:
On August 17, 2020, the FCC released an order that extends through Monday, November 30, 2020, the waivers of certain rules governing recertification, reverification, general de-enrollment, subscriber usage, income documentation, and documentation requirements for subscribers residing in rural areas on Tribal lands.
Updated June 8, 2020:
On June 1, 2020, the FCC released an order extending through August 31, 2020 its April 29 order allowing consumers recently unemployed because of COVID-19 to more easily complete their Lifeline application. In addition, the order extends through August 31, 2020 Lifeline usage, recertification, reverification, and general de-enrollment requirements, to ensure consumers are not involuntarily de-enrolled from the Lifeline program during the pandemic. More information about the COVID-19 Lifeline program changes can be found on USAC's COVID-19 Response webpage.
Updated April 30, 2020:
On April 29, 2020, the FCC released an Order that requires the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to temporarily adjust the guidelines for acceptable documentation. This documentation is used to prove that a consumer’s income meets the Lifeline income-based eligibility standards. Changes to these guidelines will ease the documentation burden on those who are recently unemployed due to the pandemic.
For more information, please see the USAC Announcements page.
Updated March 30, 2020:
Effective October 23, 2019, there are changes in the way Vermonters sign up—or recertify their eligibility—for Lifeline. Program changes include:
- Apply online to the Lifeline Program instead of applying to your phone or internet company
- Apply on a uniform paper application directly regardless of which provider you get phone or internet service from
You can find out more details at the Lifeline Program's Get Connected webpage.
Lifeline is a federal program that provides a monthly discount on phone or internet service to eligible households. Your “household” includes everyone who lives with you and shares in the household income and expenses. This includes children, adults, relatives and people not related to you.
Only one Lifeline benefit—either wireless or landline phone, home internet or cell phone data plan—is allowed per household. Not all internet services will qualify for the discount. Only those internet offerings at speeds of 10/1 Mbps and above will qualify, with certain exceptions.
Not all phone companies participate in the Lifeline program. Participating companies are:
- Burlington Telecom 1-866-304-8434
- Consolidated Communications 1-844-968-7224
- Franklin Telephone 1-802-285-9911
- Life Wireless (Telrite) 1-888-543-3620
- OTT Communications (Shoreham) 1-866-746-3873
- QLink Wireless 1-855-754-6543
- SafeLink (TracFone) 1-800-Safelink (723-3546)
- TDS Telecom (Ludlow, Northfield, Perkinsville) 1-866-571-6662
- Topsham Telephone 1-802-439-5325
- Total Wireless 1-866-663-3633
- TruConnect Communications 1-800-430-0443
- Vermont Telephone (VTel) 1-800-279-4049
- Waitsfield/Champlain Valley Telecom 1-800-496-3391
Vermont’s Universal Service Fund (VUSF) provides an additional discount on telephone service only, and the amount varies between companies depending upon the provider and the cost of service, but may not exceed $4.25 per month or the amount of the VUSF credit you received as of November 1, 2017. For more details please see the Department's Vermont Universal Service Fund webpage.
Other carriers may offer a discount for low-income consumers, but they are not required to do so, and they do not get reimbursed for their costs from the VUSF.