Today, more than one-third of eligible undergraduate students nationwide receive a federal Pell Grant to pay for their college tuition, according to the Education Data Initiative. This includes nearly half a million students from Florida. These students can also take advantage of low-cost internet service programs to enhance their studies, support their work experiences and so much more.
Local college students who receive a federal Pell Grant also qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program, a Federal Communications Commission program. It was created to remove cost as a barrier to broadband adoption and to close the digital divide and provides qualified individuals and households with a monthly credit of up to $30 to pay for internet and/or mobile phone service.
Comcast has been a proud participant in the program since it launched in December 2021, and qualified customers can use the credit toward any tier of Xfinity Internet service, including Internet Essentials. Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program that provides low-cost, in-home internet service for qualified households.
Internet Essentials also addresses other major barriers to digital adoption with an option to purchase an internet-ready computer for less than $150 before taxes and multiple options to access online digital literacy and skills training. This training helps ensure that, once people are connected, they know how to navigate the internet and use its vast resources to benefit their lives through access to better health care, jobs, housing and other needs. Since its launch in 2011, Internet Essentials has connected more than 10 million people from low-income families to the internet at home.
To qualify for Internet Essentials, a household must be receiving benefits from one of more than a dozen programs, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). College students receiving federal Pell Grants are also eligible.
The Internet Essentials tier offers 50 Mbps internet service for $9.95 a month for qualified households, and the Internet Essentials Plus tier offers 100 Mbps internet service, which is twice as fast, and costs $29.95 a month. This means that Pell Grant recipients who subscribe to Internet Essentials or Internet Essentials Plus can have their entire monthly internet bill covered by the ACP credit.
Internet Essentials and Comcast’s participation in the ACP are a part of the company’s ongoing commitment to bridging the digital divide that began more than a decade ago. In 2021, Comcast announced Project UP, a 10-year, $1 billion commitment to reach 50 million people from low-income households and provide tools, resources, skills and training to bridge the digital divide and unlock unlimited possibilities.
Still, there is much more to be achieved in closing the digital divide, and that’s what makes the back-to-school season an important time to start sharing readily accessible, cost-effective resources that are available to students throughout the year.
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Michelle Oyola-McGovern is vice president of External Affairs, Comcast Florida Region. For more information on Internet Essentials and the ACP, visit internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376.