In March 2020, schools across the nation closed their doors and began providing instruction virtually to students. From elementary school to Master’s and professional programs
, everyone was engaging in their education online.
This phenomena revealed the disparity between those who have Internet services in their home – and those who do not. Many students did not have a reliable Internet connection – or any connection at all, for that matter – which left them without an education, essentially.
The Biden Administration is working hard to close the gap between those who have Internet services and those who do not with their Build Back Better plan
. Why? Because the Internet is not just a nice to have amenity anymore; it’s a must.
In a press release from the Department of Education
, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, stated, “We know that the quality of home internet access has an impact on student success, and that students without robust internet access and reliable devices struggled more with the transition to remote learning this past year. This campaign will not only keep more of America’s students connected and learning, but will help address inequities exacerbated by COVID-19.”
Who Qualifies for Discounted Internet?
Cardona also said in the press release
that “the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified issues of internet access and affordability for both K-12 students and college students, particularly students of color, students in rural or tribal communities, and students from low-income families.”
With that, the Biden Administration is offering student discounts on Internet services to the millions of families that qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch or school breakfast program. It will also be available to all 6.5 million Pell Grant
recipients. Households on tribal lands will be eligible as well.
What Internet Discounts are Available?
According to the press release
, this temporary programs offers the following discounts to eligible households:
- Monthly discount of $50 for broadband service and associated equipment
- Monthly discount of $75 for households on qualifying tribal lands
- Participating households can also receive a one-time $100 discount for one connected device, which includes a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer (as long as the household contributes between $10 and $50 towards the cost of the device)
Eligible families can apply for the discount online
, mail, or through a participating service provider. The nearest Internet provider can be found by using the Companies Near Me tool
How Will Eligible Students Hear About Discounts?
The press release
states that Pell Grant
recipients will be notified directly by the Department of Education. Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools will also be informed by the Department if they have students that qualify.
In order to become a Pell Grant recipient, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA
. The FAFSA is used to determine financial need for families, and if a family meets the benchmarks, they will be eligible to receive Pell Grant funding. Students and families must remember to complete the FAFSA every year in order to continue to qualify for the Pell Grant.
Future Plans for Students
Build Back Better is a three-tiered plan to help America rebuild after the myriad of effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the first part of this plan was passed into law under the American Rescue Plan
. That particular COVID relief bill
provided stimulus checks, emergency financial aid, and tax credits for eligible students and their families.
Part two, the American Jobs Plan
, is in the process of being approved and passed into law. This plan will provide reliable, high-speed Broadband, especially in rural areas of the United States. It also includes funding to better train Americans, including students, for future jobs
Finally, the American Families Plan
, which has been introduced, will make community college free for two years for Americans. It has also proposed to lower college costs for low- and middle-income students Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs) as well as other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Finally, Biden has recommended an increase in Pell Grant amounts to $1,400 as well as provide access to this grant program for DREAMers
Student Discounts: Other Ways to Save
While this initiative from the Biden Administration is extremely helpful for families in need of Internet access, students don’t need to wait for the federal government to act in order to take advantage of student discounts
on goods and services. Fortunately, there are many retailers looking out for students and their families.
To help students find helpful ways to save money, we have a dedicated Student Deals
channel. Here, students can find discounts on everything, from cars to clothes to travel.
If you’re a student utilizing some type of service, like Internet or your monthly rent, it’s wise to enquire about discounts. You would be surprised to find which companies offer student discounts
. By utilizing these discounts, you can save more on living expenses, thereby allocating more of your savings or income on what really matters: your education.
Finally, students can save on their college education, and associated costs, by continuing to apply for scholarships. In addition to applying throughout the school year, there are plenty of scholarship opportunities to apply for in the summer. Consider the $1,000 Scholarship Success Sweepstakes
. This easy-to-apply-for scholarship is open to anyone over the age of 16, and you can apply every day through July 26.