A Way for Financially Strained Families to Stay in Touch with Schools and Each Other

August 30, 2012

WARREN, N.J. (BUSINESS WIRE), August 30, 2012 - Backpacks are packed, and millions of families and children are preparing to go back to school. Already a stressful time of year filled with school supply shopping, parents are doing their best to provide a nurturing learning environment for their children. Unfortunately, in tough economic times, many families struggle to provide even the basics for a safe and successful school year.

According to the US Census Bureau1, more than 6 million families with children under 18 years old live below the federal poverty line, and a report from the USDA2 states that more than 33 million children receive free or reduced-price meals yearly through the National School Lunch Program.

When families strive to provide necessities such as back-to-school supplies, clothes that fit and nutritious food for lunch, a mobile phone may seem a lesser priority but something most of us don’t consider a luxury. For families struggling to find a job or put food on the table, Assurance Wireless provides a much-needed way to keep families connected during a busy school year.

Assurance Wireless, is a federal Lifeline Assistance program from Virgin Mobile USA that offers the best value in calling plans among major Lifeline Assistance programs.3 Eligible residents receive a free wireless phone and 250 free voice minutes and 250 free text messages monthly with no annual contract. Lifeline Assistance is a government benefit program supported by the federal Universal Service Fund. Assurance Wireless gives families dealing with financial hardship the ability to stay connected with schools and each other. With Assurance Wireless, parents can provide a contact number and return calls in cases of illness, emergency, after school activities, and parent-teacher communications.

“I am a single working parent of a special needs child and Assurance Wireless has been an invaluable resource keeping me connected to my son’s school and his teachers. There have been several emergency situations I have been able to respond to only because I have an Assurance Wireless phone,” stated Evan M., 38, an Assurance Wireless customer from Maryland.

After school, approximately one-third of all school-age children in the United States are, for some part of the week, latchkey kids, according to the US Census Bureau4; that is, they go home to an empty house or apartment. The Census Bureau found that 15 percent were home alone before school, 76 percent after school and 9 percent at night. Assurance Wireless provides an essential tool for staying connected with children who are home alone while parents work to provide for their families.

Who’s Eligible?

The Lifeline Assistance program is available for only one wireless or wireline account per household. Enrollment in this government benefit program is available to consumers who qualify based on federal or state-specific eligibility criteria. Residents may qualify for Assurance Wireless if they participate in certain public assistance programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) or Section 8, Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) or the National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program. Residents may also qualify based on household income. All applicants must provide proof of program participation or proof of income.

Separate households that live at the same address are now eligible for Lifeline service, including residents of homeless shelters and nursing homes. Applicants must affirmatively certify that Lifeline recipients living at the same address are part of a separate household. Residents with temporary addresses are also eligible.

In addition to a voice mail account5 and call waiting, Assurance Wireless provides caller ID and access to 911 in case of emergency. Beyond the 250 free voice minutes each month, customers can choose from other low cost options to pay for additional minutes, texting, international calling and more at competitive rates.

Assurance Wireless is available in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. This list of states continues to expand and can be found on the Assurance website.

Eligible residents can apply for Assurance Wireless by calling (toll-free) 800-395-2171, or by visiting www.assurancewireless.com.

People who don’t qualify for Assurance Wireless but who are also struggling and searching for value can take advantage of payLo by Virgin Mobile. payLo was especially designed with value-conscious wireless consumers in mind, offering plans for as little as $20/month for 400 minutes or access to 90 days of service for $20 at a rate of less than $7 per month. payLo is available at more than 40,000 retail stores, including Best Buy, RadioShack and Target. Prospective low-income customers who find they are not eligible for Assurance Wireless may learn more about Virgin Mobile’s no-contract payLo Plan options by visiting http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-plans/payloplans.jsp#.

Prospective low income customers who find they are not eligible for Assurance Wireless may learn more about Virgin Mobile’s no contract payLo Plan options by visiting http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-plans/paylo-plans.jsp#

About Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless, one of Sprint’s no-contract brands, is supported by the Lifeline Assistance program, part of the Low Income Program of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Assurance Wireless provides service on the Nationwide Sprint Network, which reaches more than 282 million people.

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Offer limited to eligible customers (varies by state) residing in selected geographic areas and is non-transferable. Assurance Wireless is subject to the Terms of Service (includes plan details) found on http://www.assurancewireless.com/Public/TermsandConditions.aspx.

1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2009 American Community Survey; http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_10_1YR_B17010&prodType=table
2 USDA, FNS. National School Lunch Program: Participation and Lunches Served, as of 2010; http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/36slmonthly.htm
3 Based on published price plans as of 8/30/2012 of major Lifeline carriers with more than 1 million subscribers who provide service in more than 20 states.
4 http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Latch_Key_Children/?page=2
5 Airtime charges apply when accessing voice mail via an Assurance Wireless phone once free minutes have been depleted.



Assurance Wireless
Jack Pflanz, 315-374-0693