America's biggest cable TV provider is expanding its discounted internet service to college students receiving federal Pell grants.
Comcast announced this week it will help advance digital equity for even more students and families by offering its low-cost internet option — Internet Essentials – for all recipients of federal Pell grants. In addition, Comcast pledged to donate $15 million worth of Internet service and equipment, including more than 25,000 laptops, to low-income students, seniors, veterans, and adults.
"Digital equity is key to success in education and economic mobility, now and into the future," said Broderick Johnson, executive vice president of public policy and and digital equity. "As our economic, medical, and educational systems become increasingly digital, it's more important than ever that every American gets online. For those young people pursuing higher education, the expansion of IE eligibility to Pell Grant recipients is a real boost."
The announcements are part of Project UP, Comcast's comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity. Comcast launched Internet Essentials as a $9.95 a month Internet Service provider a decade ago and has connected more than 10 million people to the Internet at home through the program, including about 48,000 in the Chattanooga area.
Comcast's efforts have been designed to address America's digital divide between those with and those without internet services. Comcast's program also offer the option to purchase a heavily subsidized, affordable computer; access to free WiFi in community centers nationwide; and numerous options to acquire the digital skills necessary to navigate distance learning and use the Internet.
The Federal Pell Grant program, established in 1965, is the largest source of federal grant aid for students pursuing a postsecondary education.
"One thing this pandemic has taught us is the necessity of digital access for all students," said Maureen Hoyler, president of the Council for Opportunity in Education. "By expanding eligibility to include Pell Grant recipients, Internet Essentials has taken an important step towards helping low-income college students realize their postsecondary goals."
Comcast also committed $15 million to ensure low-income students and households have the critical tools and skills necessary to not only help close the "homework gap," but also put them on a path toward future professional success. The amount includes an estimated 25,000 free laptops that will be donated to low-income students, seniors, veterans, and adults in cities nationwide.
— Compiled by Dave Flessner