Chris Mills Rodrigo
Democrats in both chambers on Wednesday sent a letter to congressional leadership urging them to include funding to ensure college students can access the internet during the coronavirus pandemic in future relief packages.
“Even before the pandemic, only 66 percent of black households, 61 percent of Hispanic households, and 63 percent of rural households had access to broadband, and one survey found that about 20 percent of college students did not have consistent access to technology, such as laptops and tablets,” the 18 lawmakers wrote.
Klobuchar and Eshoo introduced legislation last month to create a dedicated $1 billion fund at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for internet connections as well as equipment like hot spots and Wi-Fi enabled devices.
The Supporting Connectivity for Higher Education Students in Need Act would specifically target historically black, tribal, Hispanic and other minority-serving colleges and universities as well as rural institutions.
Wednesday's letter 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 digital divide affects students every week but has gained added importance and attention with the school closures.
While some funding for colleges and universities was included in the first coronavirus relief package, the CARES Act, according to the letter it was insufficient to for ensuring internet access.