Help for qualified college students struggling to pay for internet service

Between inflation, high gas prices and rising food and housing costs, many people in South Florida are dealing with financial pressures. The budget crunch can be even more apparent for college students, who have the added burden of school-related expenses like tuition and books. Fortunately, there are resources to help qualified students get help for one necessity — internet service.

Internet Essentials from Comcast, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, provides low-cost, in-home internet service for qualified households. It also addresses the major barriers to digital adoption beyond access 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 to ensure that once people are connected, they know how to navigate the internet and how to use the internet’s 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 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). College students receiving Federal Pell Grants are also eligible, and other programs ensure that these students do not face barriers crossing the digital divide.

Pell Grant recipients are also eligible for additional relief from a Federal Communications Commission Program, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which was created to remove cost as a barrier to broadband adoption. The ACP provides qualified individuals and households with a monthly credit of up to $30 to pay for internet and/or cellular phone service. Comcast has been a proud participant in the program since it was launched in December 2021, and qualified customers can use the ACP credit towards any tier of Xfinity Internet service, including Internet Essentials.

Internet Essentials offers 50 Mbps internet service for $9.95 a month or 100 Mbps internet service, which is twice as fast, for $29.95 a month. In other words, Pell Grant recipients can have their entire monthly internet bill covered by the ACP credit. According to a study by Educationdata.org, 34% of undergraduate students nationwide received a Pell Grant in the 2020-2021 school year, including nearly 490,000 in Florida.

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.

Javier Garcia is senior vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast Florida Region. For more information on Internet Essentials and the ACP, visit internetessentials.com or call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376).

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