Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is now accepting applications for ReConnect Program loans and grants to expand access to high-speed internet for millions of people in rural America nationwide. USDA is making more than $1 billion available, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The program is a critical piece of the Biden Administration’s commitment to connect every American to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. USDA has made several improvements to the ReConnect Program for the current round of applications. Collectively, these improvements increase the availability of funding in rural areas where residents and businesses lack access to affordable, high-speed internet. They include:
- Allowing applicants to serve areas where at least 50% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet.
- Adding a funding category for projects where 90% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet. For applications submitted under this category, no matching funds will be required.
- Waiving the matching funds requirement for: (a) Alaska Native Corporations, (b) Tribal Governments, (c) projects proposing to provide service in colonias, (d) projects proposing to serve persistent poverty counties and (e) projects proposing to provide service in socially vulnerable communities.
Additionally, to ensure that rural households in need of internet service can afford it, all awardees under this funding round will be required to apply to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month towards internet service to qualifying low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands. As a result, ACP-eligible households can receive internet at no cost and can sign up and check their eligibility at www.GetInternet.gov.
To view the full press release, click here.