WASHINGTON — Yesterday, a group of senators released a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes critical provisions to ensure that today’s students in college continue to have access to broadband internet. Higher Learning Advocates’ Executive Director Julie Peller made the following statement regarding these provisions:
“Over the past year and a half, it has become clear just how critical broadband access is for today’s students to succeed in higher education. Higher Learning Advocates is glad to see the inclusion of $14 billion to further expand broadband access to low-income households, including students who receive a Pell Grant, in the newly introduced bipartisan infrastructure bill. The Affordable Connectivity Program, formerly the Emergency Broadband Benefit, would continue to receive critical funding under this bill, allowing eligible households to receive financial assistance in the form of a $30 per month subsidy.
Additionally, Higher Learning Advocates is pleased to see a provision to facilitate data matching among several federal agencies for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Such data matching with the Department of Education would ensure students who are eligible to receive the benefit don’t have to jump through burdensome verification hoops to enroll. Higher Learning Advocates has long championed such a change and thanks the bill’s sponsors for including this important provision.
We hope Congress continues to recognize the importance of ensuring access to reliable and affordable broadband for college students, particularly for those who are economically disadvantaged or have difficulty accessing high-speed internet at home. Even as some campuses begin to reopen, affordable broadband must be available for all students—from kindergarten through college—to learn and work from home when necessary. We urge the Senate to adopt these important provisions in the infrastructure bill and hope the House quickly follows suit to make a meaningful impact in the lives of students throughout the country.”