PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — K-12 students without access to the internet will soon be able to apply for free internet service through a new program announced by Governor Kristi Noem’s office on Tuesday. 

The program, which will provide free internet for K-12 students until June 30, 2021, will start this week as eligible households receive a letter indicating eligibility for the program. To enroll, eligible members will call the telecommunications company noted in his or her letter to set up service. 

Providers will install the necessary equipment on first-come, first-serve basis. 

Eligible households must meet the following criteria: 

  1. Have at least one student currently enrolled in an accredited South Dakota K-12 school;
  2. Must meet the income eligibility guidelines for the free and reduced school lunch program; and
  3. The household was not subscribed to a fixed broadband internet service as of July 1, 2020.

Enrollment closes Nov. 20, 2020.

Funding for the program is from the CARES Act. The program’s cost is estimated at $6 million to $8 million, according to Ian Fury, the governor’s communications director. More information, including options for households who may qualify but don’t receive a letter, can be found at k12connect.sd.gov.