FCC Adopts Higher Learning Advocates’ Recommendations for Pell Students in the Emergency Broadband Benefit

WASHINGTON — Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released approved rules related to the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program, which Congress created in December 2020. The EBB provides a $50 per month benefit for eligible households, including students receiving Pell Grants, to pay for broadband services. Today, Executive Director Julie Peller made the following statement regarding the benefit and news surrounding its implementation:

“Higher Learning Advocates is glad to see that the FCC accepted our recommendations in the implementation of the Emergency Broadband Benefit. Specifically, we are pleased that FCC is recommending that USAC establish computer matching agreements with respective agencies to verify eligibility. A computer matching agreement between the Department of Education and USAC would ensure efficient and seamless verification for students who have received a Pell Grant. Given the urgency of the situation, we urge USAC and the Department of Education to work swiftly together in the interest of students by establishing the data match as soon as possible. 

Absent a computer matching agreement, FCC has adopted HLA’s suggestions for four alternative ways Pell students can verify their eligibility for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, including a letter from their institution, a financial aid award letter, a paid invoice showing a Pell Grant, or a copy of their Student Aid Report. These alternative means would allow students to quickly verify that they received a Pell Grant and show they are therefore eligible for the broadband benefit. We hope that students will be able to use these methods while a computer matching agreement is being established.

In the near term, it is critical that colleges and other stakeholders work hand-in-hand with Pell students so they are aware that this benefit exists, that they are eligible to receive it, and that they know how and where to apply to receive it. We look forward to hearing more from the FCC on outreach as the rollout of this important benefit continues.”