TRIO Gets Connected

The Affordable Connectivity Program has been instrumental in bridging the digital divide and fostering opportunities for TRIO participants, its continuation is uncertain due to Congress not allocating additional funding. Consequently, the program is anticipated to conclude this spring. Nonetheless, COE steadfastly upholds its commitment to advancing digital equity initiatives.

Enrollments End February 7, 2024

Affordable Connectivity Program Wind-Down

In 2021, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was established by Congress through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with an allocation of $14.2 billion. As of January 2024, more than 22 million households are currently benefiting from ACP’s monthly assistance. However, without further funding from Congress, the designated $14.2 billion for ACP is anticipated to be depleted by April 2024 (this time frame is subject to change). Consequently, the FCC has initiated measures to gradually phase out ACP. To learn more download the ACP Wind-Down Fact Sheet or the ACP Wind-Down Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

The enrollment period for ACP concludes on Wednesday, February 7 at midnight ET. If you’re already enrolled in ACP, it’s essential to reach out to your internet service provider to understand how the ACP Wind-Down will affect your plan and billing. While funds are projected to last until April, it’s crucial to have alternative support options in place. COE recommend the Lifeline program for additional assistance. Additionally, for those needing further guidance, contact your TRIO program staff for support and resources.

Digital equity remains a priority for COE. Individuals seeking support can access resources through organizations like National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and If you require assistance in locating additional resources or navigating digital inclusion initiatives, feel free to reach out to Jen Rudolph, COE’s Associate Vice President, State Initiatives for guidance and support.

Pell Grant Recipients: Automatic Eligibility

The Affordable Connectivity Program recognizes the important role that Pell Grants play in supporting students from low-income backgrounds in pursuing higher education.

As a result, all individuals who receive a Pell Grant are automatically eligible for the program. This streamlined process eliminates the need for additional eligibility checks, making it easier for Pell Grant recipients to access affordable connectivity options. Participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program is a straightforward process. For more information, reach out to your local TRIO program staff. Using these simple steps, here’s how to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Step 1: Check Eligibility

Qualify for program based on eligibility criteria: institution enrollment, Pell Grant, income.

To participate in the program, individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria. This includes being enrolled in a qualifying institution, receiving a Pell Grant, or meeting income requirements. If you are a Pell Grant recipient, you are automatically eligible for the program. Otherwise, review the specific eligibility guidelines provided by the FCC to determine if you qualify.


Step 2: Apply for the Program

Select provider, initiate application, follow guidance, mention Pell Grant status.

Once you have chosen a participating provider, contact them to begin the application process. The provider will guide you through the application and inform you about any additional documentation or requirements. Remember to mention your Pell Grant status or provide proof of eligibility when applying.


Step 3: Select a Participating Provider

Explore FCC website for local participating providers; assess affordability and speed.

The Affordable Connectivity Program collaborates with various internet service providers (ISPs) to offer discounted plans. Visit the FCC’s official website to access the list of participating providers in your area. Consider factors such as plan affordability, internet speed, and other features that align with your needs.


Step 4: Enjoy Affordable Connectivity

Approved for Affordable Connectivity Program? Enjoy affordable internet for education, communication, and more.

After successfully applying and being approved for the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can start enjoying the benefits of affordable internet access. Connect with educational resources, communicate with loved ones, explore job opportunities, and engage with the digital world without financial burdens.


National Toolkit

As a part of TRIO Gets Connected, COE is excited to offer state-specific resources such as additional internet discount options, digital equity programs, and more. Check back soon as we will be adding more states!

Let’s Build a Connected Future, Together!

Need help getting started?

This toolkit offers a comprehensive guide to help participating states kick-start their journey towards digital empowerment with essential resources such as step-by-step instructions and a detailed FAQ.


The Digital Divide: A National Challenge

In today’s digital age, access to the internet is essential for education, employment, healthcare, and civic engagement.

However, millions of low-income individuals and families across the nation face significant barriers to reliable and affordable internet access. This disparity, known as the digital divide, exacerbates existing inequalities and limits opportunities for those who need them the most. Data illustrating the digital divide nationally is staggering. According to recent studies, over 30 million Americans lack broadband internet access at home, and approximately 12 million students lack reliable internet access for remote learning. These statistics highlight the urgent need for initiatives like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital era.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 appropriated $14.2 billion for the ACP, which provides qualifying low-income households discounts on broadband service and connected devices, and expressly authorizes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outreach for the ACP. The ACP plays an integral role in helping to bridge the digital divide, which is an ongoing priority for Congress, the FCC, and across the federal government.


The Council for Opportunity in Education sponsored TRIO Gets Connected program is grant funded through the Federal Communications Commission. The program aims to broaden awareness and enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). 

Get in Touch

For more information reach out to your local TRIO program staff.

Questions? Contact Associate Vice President for State Policy Jen Rudolph at [email protected].

Support Us

If you are a student support services professional, thank you. You are an unsung hero for all the good that you do, and surely you know by now that COE has your back.



Through strategic collaborations, we work to strengthen quality, opportunity and access to education for all American students — the next generation of global leaders.

partner with us

Join Us

Join more than 1,000 colleges and community agencies committed to postsecondary opportunity for low-income, first-generation students, students with disabilities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Pacific Islands, and Puerto Rico!

become a member