Low-Income Families to Receive Relief on Broadband Bills
$3.2 billion FCC program tentatively scheduled to open by May
Parents to young children will remember when a computer and the internet were something to be played with after school. In 2021, however, technology has become an instrumental part of instruction during the school day — especially as full or partial remote learning continues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of us are brutally aware of the expense of cable/internet service, but most of us are able to grit and bear those costs — which average $121 a month in Erie, according to doxoINSIGHTS. For those out of work or with low or reduced incomes, though, cable/internet service may fall below other essential needs in the household budgeting pecking order, putting their kids at a distinct disadvantage versus their peers.
This digital divide in education could no longer be allowed to stand, which is why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved a $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help defray the cost of technologies that are now indispensable to today's students. The program is tentatively scheduled to open to eligible households by May.
Eligible households include:
- Those with children who qualify for their school's free or reduced lunch program
- Those with Federal Pell Grant recipients
- Those who have suffered a job loss or income reduction in the last year
- Those who already qualify for an existing low-income pandemic relief program through their current broadband provider
- Those who subscribe to FCC Lifeline, a federal program supporting affordable communications.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program offers the following:
- Up to $50 monthly toward broadband service ($75 if the household sits on tribal land)
- A one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet per eligible household
If you or someone you know is having difficulty affording technology for a student, bookmark fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit for the latest on when applications open.
Matt Swanseger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org