BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – A new federal program that’s included in the Infrastructure and Investment Act saves people some cash on their internet bill.

The Affordable Connectivity Program allows people who meet certain criteria to save up to $30 per month on their internet bill. People who live on Tribal land could save up to $75 per month. The program, which is overseen by the FCC, offers eligible families a discount on laptops, desktops and tablets from select providers.

“I still have families who are extremely struggling during this pandemic,” said Buffalo Common Council Member Mitch Nowakowski. “I still have children in their homes doing homework from their parents cell phones, that’s not only wrong, but that’s a huge indicator of their ability to advance in school.”

In order to be eligible, you have to be at or below federal poverty guidelines or be receiving benefits such as SNAP or Medicaid. If your family participates in the federal free or reduced-price lunch or breakfast program, you also qualify.

“There are tens of thousands of households just in the City of Buffalo alone who will qualify for this program and this program will save them $30 a month, which can be a lot of money if you are right on the edge of being able to make it in your own home,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

According to the U.S. Census, 30 percent of people in the City of Buffalo live in poverty. Many people will qualify.

“It is important especially for the East Side of Buffalo to have broadband access, it’s critical to the success and sustainability of community members on the East Side to have secure and quality broadband access and connectivity,” said Sigourney Cook, executive director of the King Urban Life Center.

According to Congressman Brian Higgins Office, many families in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Maryvale, Cheektowaga Sloan, Cleveland Hill, Ken-Ton, Lackawanna, Lockport, Niagara Falls, Niagara Wheatfield, Sweet Home, City of Tonawanda and West Seneca Schools will be eligible.

Poloncarz says plans are still moving forward to create Erie-Net — that’s a network that’s intended to improve broadband service throughout the county. Construction to build out the network is expected to start this summer.

Even though we are in the digital age, there are many families we’ve heard from who say they can’t get or afford reliable internet and are hoping something is done to dramatically improve service and lower cost.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.