Imagine waking up one day to find your lifeline to the world, the internet, suddenly severed. That's the looming reality for nearly a quarter-million Minnesotans next month.

An internet connection at home has become an essential utility in the world we live in today. From accessing educational resources and job opportunities to banking and important government services and healthcare, a reliable internet connection is a must-have to meet some basic needs.

The increasing demand for universal internet access led to the FCC creating the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which gives discounts ranging from $30 to $75 per month on internet or wireless services to eligible households.

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Is The Affordable Connectivity Program Ending?

Over 23 million households across the country are currently enrolled in the ACP, but due to lack of funding for the program, April is the last month the full discounts will be given. Partial discounts could be given in May at the discretion of internet providers, but after that, unless Congress provides additional funding, the program will end indefinitely.

In Minnesota, the cost of funding the ACP for one year is approximately $86.2 million.

What Does the End of the Affordable Connectivity Program Mean For Minnesotans?

affordable connectivity program minnesota internet
Minneapolis, MN (Canva)

Unfortunately, the end of the ACP means 239,681 Minnesotans currently enrolled in the program will lose the internet discounts they have relied on to stay connected for the past two years.

For the low-income households that qualify for the ACP (one-income households making less than $30,120 annually), paying full price for internet access could be cost-prohibitive. High-speed internet in Minnesota can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 per month -- $600 to $1,200 annually.

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Without the ACP, qualifying low-income households will have to fork over 2-4 percent of their annual income for internet access. For context, Americans making an average income pay about 1.6 percent of their yearly income for internet service, according to the website WhistleOut.

What Can You Do If You Are Currently Enrolled in the ACP?

internet discounts low income minnesota

According to WhistleOut, other assistance programs could help households currently enrolled in the ACP:

You may still qualify for free internet from other government programs depending on your income and plan options. For example, other federal programs like Lifeline offer internet discounts, but it has a smaller monetary benefit with more restrictive application terms. Generally, your plan would only be free on the least expensive plan options available.

The reality is that the 200k-plus households in Minnesota receiving ACP discounts will need to search for the most affordable internet plans available. AllConnect has a tool Minnesotans can use to help find an internet plan that works best for their household.

READ MORE: Why Are Minnesota Vehicle Registration Tabs So Expensive?

20 Cheapest Places to Live in Minnesota for 2024

Minnesota Now has compiled a list of the most budget-friendly places to call home in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for 2024. The list is based solely on the sum of seven basic and necessary expenses for a family of four (two parents, two kids): housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes -- as provided in the latest EPI dataset.

Gallery Credit: Minnesota Now