Comcast and RCN have been selected as ‘wired’ Internet Service Providers for this program due to their ability to connect homes with reliable broadband service at affordable rates. T-Mobile has been selected as the primary cellular data provider for the program. Chicago Connected will continue to work to onboard additional partners as needed.
CPS will contact eligible households through direct mail, emails, robocalls, and text messages. As well, each CPS Principal will be provided a roster of eligible students and the CPS Team plans to add a lookup function to the cps.edu/chicagoconnected website.
Outstanding debt is NOT a barrier to joining Chicago Connected. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will not engage in collection activities for Chicago Connected families, however, payment plans may be offered to assist families in addressing outstanding obligations. Internet services will not be affected by any such activities.
Eligible families CAN join this program if they have pre-existing debt with an ISP. It is important that eligible families identify themselves as a Chicago Connected participant when speaking to Comcast or RCN.
Yes, families should expect to see a final bill for the services they had consumed before the cutover date.
Chicago Connected is available without cost to eligible families. There are no monthly out-of-pocket subscription fees or installation charges and past debt to an Internet Service Provider is not a barrier for families who choose to participate in the program. In the event a participant elects a service feature with potential fees the eligible participant will receive advance notice or be asked to acknowledge they are electing an option with potential costs.
No, Chicago Connected membership codes are not transferable. Internet Service Providers have been given a list of specific households and will validate when contacted.
If you have multiple students in the home you can use any of the codes provided when activating with your Internet Service Provider. At that point, there is no use for the other unused codes. The program opted to send invitations to each student to add an extra measure of assurance that the household would be accommodated.
No, Chicago Connected eligibility is non transferable. Unused codes cannot be provided to another family.
In this case, the family will be given a hotspot for accessing the internet. They should contact their local school and inform them of the situation and the school can make a request for a hotspot of ITS.
In this case, if requested the family will be converted to a hotspot customer. They should contact their local school and inform them of the situation and the school can make a request for a hotspot of ITS. Wired service for these families will be cancelled.
Participating households who are able to have wired internet service will receive internet service speeds of 50 Mbps download and at least 5 Mbps upload. This speed level is necessary to ensure quality video streaming and video conferencing using multiple devices.
While the focus of the first phase is primarily focused on wired households, the initiative will provide for hotspot service for students in temporary living situations and eligible households that do not have access to wired line in their neighborhood.
No. Families must be enrolled with Chicago Connected in order to receive a hotspot. Hotspots must be reserved to bridge the digital divide for families in need, and we unfortunately do not have the resources to provide extra services for families who already have internet coverage outside of Chicago Connected.
At this time, the Chicago Connected program does not allow for an upgrade of the service packages available through Comcast and RCN. However, any Comcast or RCN family with more than three students is eligible to receive additional hotspot coverage:
Four or five total students = one extra hotspot
Six or more = two extra hotspots
Please contact your child’s school if you would like to receive an additional hotspot.
Any family with more than two students in a household using a hotspot are eligible for additional assistance.
Three or four total students = one extra hotspot
Five or six total students = two extra hotspots
Please contact your child’s school if you would like to receive an additional hotspot.
Unfortunately, this is not an option at this time. The intention of the Chicago Connected program is to accommodate families who have no internet. The program will not be able to subsidize families that can afford internet services.
The overarching program is funded through 12/31/24. After enrollment, households will be able to continue service as long as they have eligible students enrolled at a CPS school.
Who is eligible?
Initially, eligibility for Chicago Connected was determined using a mixture of factors including free and reduced price lunch status; Medicaid qualifications; community hardship index using the UIC Hardship Index; and programmatic factors such as being a diverse learner, English language learner, and a student in temporary living situation (STLS). This model was designed to ensure families with the highest need were first in line for free internet service.
However, in November of 2020, eligibility for the program expanded significantly and now any student that qualifies for free and reduced meals is automatically eligible for Chicago Connected, as long as the family does not already have a higher-level package from their internet service provider.
No. Families have the option of providing a Social Security Number to confirm identity, but it is not a requirement and families can join the program without providing a Social Security Number. A list of acceptable identifications can be found here.
Families who qualify for this program will be offered free internet and those with existing internet will have the option to transition to this program if they choose.
Families living in temporary housing situations have been provided wireless internet hotspots and the district will be continuing that service for any STLS student in need. STLS students that have not already received a hotspot should reach out to their local school for next steps.
CPS will contact eligible households through direct mail, emails, robocalls, and text messages over the summer.
Not necessarily, but in most cases, students enrolled in Medicaid and STLS are also eligible for Chicago Connected. The best way to confirm your family’s eligibility is to check with your local school or by using the Chicago Connected eligibility tool.
How do I get connected?
The Internet Service Providers are able to do most installations remotely through self-installation kits and over the phone. Where this is not feasible, the ISPs have protocols to ensure they can safely install the internet in a household.
CPS will notify eligible families July-October through robocalls, text messages, and U.S. mail. Families will be provided with sign-up information and additional details about the program.
Yes. Protecting families’ consumer rights are critical components of our terms with Internet Service Providers. The program is free of charge, there will be no fees for installation or equipment and families won’t receive a bill. Should a household no longer be eligible for the program because a student has graduated from CPS or experiences other changes in eligibility, the providers cannot bill them for continued service without their permission.
Families can reach Comcast customer service to register for Chicago Connected at 844-963-0178, seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Families can reach RCN to register for Chicago Connected at 312-955-2400, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What Happens When My Chicago Connected Enrollment Ends?
Households are transitioned out of Chicago Connected when they no longer have a student enrolled at CPS who is eligible for the program. If you still have a student enrolled at CPS, you can check the student’s eligibility using the Chicago Connected Student Eligibility tool. If your student is eligible, contact your internet service provider with the Activation Code provided on the eligibility tool. Or you can call the CPS Parent Tech Support Help Center at 773-417-1060.
CPS and participating internet service providers will make multiple efforts to contact households that are transitioning out of Chicago Connected. In addition to these efforts, community-based organizations who support program outreach will attempt to contact every newly-ineligible household a minimum of three times to confirm there is no longer an eligible student living at the house, and, if so, to support the family with getting signed up for the Affordable Connectivity Program or continuing service through City Colleges’ Chicago Connected extension opportunity.
If you received notice that your family is no longer eligible for Chicago Connected, you will continue to receive service from your provider until February 29, 2024. If you do not sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program or another internet service package during this time, your internet service will be discontinued on March 1, 2024. For more information, learn about the Affordable Connectivity Program and other low-cost internet service below.
If you no longer have a student enrolled at CPS, don’t worry. Your family is likely eligible for the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The Affordable Connectivity Program provides:
Up to $30 per month discount for broadband service
Up to $75 per month month discount for households on qualifying Tribal lands
A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider if the household contributes more than $10 but less than $50 toward the purchase price.
Visit fcc.gov/acp to check if you’re eligible and start your application.
CPS has evaluated a number of packages for internet access and has identified low-cost options. Visit our Internet Access page to view options from internet service providers in your area.
Here are two options:
What is it? Comp-U-Dopt provides FREE reconditioned laptops and computers to families who do not own a computer in their home. Devices provided by the school should not be counted as they are not owned by the family.
Who is eligible?Families must have a child in K-12 education and not own a working computer at home. (Devices provided by the school should not be counted as they are not owned by the family).
Scroll down and click "Register" under Chicago Metro Lottery.
Names will be chosen randomly based on the available inventory 3-days prior to the distribution dates. Selected recipients will be notified by text message to complete the RSVP process to pick up their computer at a distribution site. Please note recipients will be randomly selected; not everyone who registers will receive a computer. Limit one per household.
How do I get my device? Families who are randomly selected will receive an access code to pick up their computer. Please look for a text message with the date and time to pick up your computer. It is important that you provide a working cell phone number to ensure you receive a text message if selected.
What is it? PCs for People provides refurbished computers and laptops are available for $0-$20 or up to $150 for qualifying Illinois residents.
Who is eligible?
Refurbished computers and laptops are available for $0-$20 for Illinois residents who participate in one or more of the following programs, or for residents whose household income is less than 135% of federal poverty guidelines.
Federal Public Housing Assistance
Veterans Pension Benefit Program
Refurbished computers and laptops are available for up to $150 for Illinois residents who participate in:
Adult and child mental health case management
Employment services (applicable only if income-based in your state)
Extended foster care
Food support (a dated letter showing current eligibility is required)
Financial assistance such as GA or TANF (a dated letter showing current eligibility is required)
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Medicaid or medical assistance (a document that says "MA" or "Medical Assistance" on it is required)
The National School Lunch Program's Free or Reduced Lunch Program
Section 8, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Group Residential Housing (GRH)
Social Security Disability (SSD)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Federal Pell Grant.
How can I participate? PCs for People requires photo identification and income documentation for program qualification. Acceptable documents for income documentation fall into two categories: proof of current enrollment in an income-based government assistance program, or documentation from a government source of current income.
Acceptable forms of photo ID:
Driver's license or state ID card for non-drivers
Formal ID card (such as veteran or student)
Company or work-issued identification
Qualifying income documentation:
The prior year's state, federal, or tribal tax return (W2 forms or pay stubs are not acceptable)
A Social Security statement of benefits
A Veteran Administration statement of benefits* (VA cards alone are not accepted)
A retirement/pension statement of benefits
An Unemployment/Workmen's Compensation statement of benefits
Federal or tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance