Skip to Content



Need help paying your phone bill graphic

FCC’s Universal Service Program Mission Statement:

A part of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) mission is to ensure that telecommunications services are available to “all the people” of the United States. The Low Income support mechanism assists eligible low-income consumers to establish and maintain telephone service by discounting services provided by local telephone companies.

What is Lifeline?

Lifeline support enables low-income consumers to save up to $9.25 per month on their telephone bills.

Eligibility and Certification of Eligibility

Effective July 22, 2004, low-income consumers in states that do not have their own low income programs, such as Iowa, will be eligible to receive Lifeline support if they receive assistance from any one of the following public


assistance programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA or Section 8)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • National School Lunch (NSL) free lunch program


The Commission believes that the addition of TANF and the NSL free lunch program will broaden eligibility for Lifeline and may, as a result, increase telephone subscribership among low-income households. Consumers in federal default states who qualify for Lifeline because they participate in these means-tested programs will still be able to self-certify their eligibility.

In addition to the two new means-tested programs, low-income consumers in Iowa will be able to qualify for discounted Lifeline service based on their income. Consumers with income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines will be eligible for Lifeline service. USAC maintains a link to the adjusted Federal Poverty Guidelines on its website, Consumers will be required to provide proof of their income before they enroll in Lifeline, whether they qualify under the income criteria, and must self-certify, under penalty of perjury, that the documentation they present accurately reflects their household income. In addition, an officer of each ETC (eligible telecommunications carrier) must certify, under penalty of perjury, that the ETC has procedures in place to review income documentation presented by consumers. An officer must also certify, under penalty of perjury, that to the best of his or her knowledge, the company was presented with documentation that the household income for each of its income-eligible Lifeline customers is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Income-based eligibility criteria will take effect after carriers have had an opportunity to establish certification procedures, but no later than June 22, 2005.