Chris Mills Rodrigo
Democrats in both chambers introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at ensuring that all college students have internet access amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Supporting Connectivity for Higher Education Students in Need Act allocates $1 billion for a fund at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration targeted for students lacking internet access.
The funding would be used directly for internet connections as well as equipment like hot spots and Wi-Fi enabled devices.
Schools receiving funding would be required to prioritize students eligible for financial aid.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who is leading the bill's introduction in the Senate, said in a statement that "ensuring college and university students have access to high-speed internet is critical" during the pandemic.
“The Supporting Connectivity for Higher Education Students in Need Act would help ensure that college and university students with the greatest financial need can access high-speed internet and essential equipment, such as laptops and tablets, to help them stay connected to their schools and communities during this public health crisis.”
Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Doris Matsui (Calif.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Marcia Fudge (Ohio), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.) and Alma Adams (N.C.) introduced the House companion legislation.
The legislation comes as schools across the country remain shuttered in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
That has moved many classes online, highlighting the millions of students in America who do not have internet access at home.
The so-called digital divide affects students every week, but has gained added importance and attention with the school closures.