Mapping Your Future: Pell recipients eligible for discounted broadband service and computer purchase

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Pell recipients eligible for discounted broadband service and computer purchase

By Catherine Mueller

May 13, 2021

Even before the pandemic hit, access to reliable Internet service was a necessity for college completion.

During the pandemic, the lack of reliable internet service or any internet service at all created a challenge for many students trying to attend online classes, and many low-income students felt that problem most acutely.

To address this issue, the Federal Communications Commission will be administering the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program and will be using FAFSA data to determine which students, Pell recipients in particular, are eligible for this benefit.

The EBB program will connect low-income households, especially households with school-aged children, to broadband networks at affordable rates. The EBB program offers a discount of $50 per month on broadband service for eligible households and $75 per month for households on tribal lands. Participants in the program may also be eligible for a discount on the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

In a May 12 Electronic Announcement, the Department of Education provided institutional guidance, permitting institutions of higher education to use FAFSA data to aid in the administration of the FCC's EBB program. In the announcement, the Department cautions institutions to limit data use to what is only necessary, to inform students of the program, and to verify a student's receipt of a Pell Grant. In the announcement, the Department requests that schools not make the process to access this program overly burdensome on the students, recognizing that these students are already facing broadband and technological challenges.