PLEASE SEE UPDATED ARTICLE FOR CURRENT INFORMATION REGARDING LOUISIANA LIFELINE PROGRAM
As of this writing, April 2011, Louisiana doesn’t have a free government phone program. What they do have is a discounted program. As indicated on the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates website, there are 9 states that only offer discount phone service in accordance with the federal LifeLine program and Louisiana is one of them. The other states are Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota (plus territories of American Samoa and Northern Mariana Island).
What this means is that all of the other 49 states offer the federal discounts as set forth in the LifeLine/LinkUp program and additional discounts as offered by the states. Louisiana residents (and the residents of the 8 other states and territories), only receive one set of phone discounts as offered by the federal government.
What Louisiana Residents Get
Through the Link-Up program, Louisiana residents may not have to pay the entire phone deposit and telephone connection charges as required by the local phone company. Link-Up will pay up to $30 for the initial installation/connection charges. Additionally, through Link-Up Louisiana phone customers can borrow, interest-free, up to $200 to cover the setup fees. The fees must be repaid within a year.
Through the LifeLine program, qualified phone customers can save at least $10 a month on phone bills. The actual amount of savings will vary depending on your telephone carrier. To find out how much you can save, visit the Universal Service Administrative Company’s by state phone charge look up. The page is entitled Telephone Assistance programs for Low Income Households.
Once there, click on the state of Louisiana. The next page lists some of Louisiana’s phone service. By selecting a phone company and clicking “Go,” you can view how much of a discount each phone company offers. There you read the associated terms and conditions.
For example, Sprint Nextel offers a $16.50 discount on basic monthly phone bills while Affordable Phone Services, Inc. offers a $13.50 per month phone savings on their flat rate service. Surprisingly, Cox Louisiana Telecom and Verizon only offer a monthly discount of $8.25.
As you can see, the discount varies by telephone provider so make sure you shop around.
Louisiana Discounted Phone Service Qualification
Since the LifeLine program is for low-income individuals, to qualify you must participate in one or more of the following government assistance programs:
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (such as Section 8 )
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or
- National School Lunch Program Free Lunch
How to Apply for Discounted Phone Service
In Louisiana, you must apply directly through the phone company. This link will help you to find applications for several of the phone companies servicing the Louisiana area. Keep in mind that the list may not include all of the phone companies in the area, but it is a good start.
Few Things to Note
It may take a while (up to two months) before the discounts are processed on your phone bill. During that time, you must continue to pay your phone bill. And, the phone bill must be in the name of the person who qualifies for the program, except if the qualifying program is the National School Lunch Program. In such cases, the phone must be in the adult’s name.