Cheap and Free Internet for Students
Learn more about affordable internet access if you need to get online for class.
Can students get free internet?
Students can get free internet with help from community internet access points or internet service providers that offer the first 30–60 days of service free. Low-income families with students in K–12 can also get discounts on internet service.
If you or someone you know needs cheap internet for students, we’ll help you find a long-term solution.
What is the best free internet service for students?
Public Wi-Fi hotspots
You’ve probably seen a sign in a café window for free Wi-Fi—and that means you’ve been near a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
In addition to businesses that want you to buy a beverage in exchange for a Wi-Fi password, public libraries and town centers often act as community internet access points where the internet is free for everyone.
When you’re near a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can see it among the available networks on your device’s Wi-Fi settings. But you don’t have to walk all around town hunting down a free signal—instead, check your location with Wiman.
Wiman has a database filled with all your local free Wi-Fi, and the Android version of the app will even connect your phone automatically. A quick search in this writer’s area shows there’s free Wi-Fi at the local high schools, libraries, and—uh—Arby’s.
Honestly, there are worse places to do your online homework than a parking lot near readily available French dip sandwiches.
Hotspots for college students
Internet for college students can be a costly expense, and you might find yourself missing the days when you could use your family’s internet service for free.
But being away from home doesn’t mean you’re all on your own. Even if you live far away from your family as a student, you could still get free internet by using hotspots.
Many internet providers like Comcast offer free internet and Wi-Fi hotspot access to their customers, and some of these hotspot networks are huge. If your folks get internet from one of the providers below, they probably have a hotspot account, and they might not even realize it.
Use these links to learn how to access the providers’ hotspot networks:
If your provider from back home has hotspots around your college town, you might even have one near your dorm.
These provider hotspots your family pays for are free internet for you—but think twice before you share the login info with your friends. Your folks’ account has some private info they won’t want you passing around.
What is the best cheap internet for students?
The best cheap internet for students is available through a few internet provider’s low-income initiatives. These programs offer special prices for low-income customers, and most plans start at $10 per month.
But even if you qualify for one of these provider initiatives, you might not live where one of these philanthropic internet providers are available. If that’s the case, you can apply for the government Lifeline program, which offers a $9.25 per month discount on internet.
Many providers also have cheap internet packages for everyone, which we’ve already rounded up in our “Best Cheap Internet” article. Those deals start around $35 per month, and they’re a good alternative if you don’t qualify for a low-income initiative.
Who has internet for $10 a month?
AT&T, Cox, Mediacom, and Xfinity all offer low-income household initiatives for about $10 per month. Each provider has different ways to qualify for this low-cost internet, so check the chart below to see if you can snag a deal.
Internet provider programs for low-income households
|Provider low-income initiative||Max download speed||Introductory price||Qualifying programs|
|AT&T Access*||25 Mbps||$10.00/mo.||
SSI (California only)
Head Start (temp.)
|Cox Connect2Compete*||50 Mbps||$9.95/mo.||
|Mediacom Connect-2-Compete*||25 Mbps||$9.95/mo.||NSLP||View plan|
|Spectrum Internet Assist||30 Mbps||$17.99/mo.||
|Internet Essentials from Comcast (Xfinity)||50 Mbps||$9.95/mo.||
Federal Pell Grant (Colorado & Illinois only)
Data effective as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Taxes and fees may apply.
*Home must have a student in K-12 to qualify.
How to qualify for low-income internet
The qualifications for low-income internet vary by provider, but most require you to already be part of a government assistance program like the ones listed below.
Programs targeted to students
- Head Start
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Tribal assistance
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Veteran Affairs (VA) pension
How to get low-income internet if providers in your area don’t offer assistance
The government helps connect low-income households with the Lifeline program. To qualify, you must already be part of a federal assistance program, or your household income must be 135% or less of the federal poverty guidelines.
If you share internet with other low-income households or live on tribal lands, you may qualify for even more internet discounts through Lifeline.
With the Lifeline program, you’ll receive at least $9.25 per month toward your internet bill.
There are limited free and cheap internet options for students who don’t qualify for low-income assistance. But with a little ingenuity—and maybe a late-night trip to Arby’s—there are still ways to find internet access without breaking the bank.
Our experts have spent hundreds of hours researching internet service providers to bring you the best deals across the board. For this article, we researched opportunities available to students and other low-income individuals. Head over to How We Rank for more information on our process.