A federal bill to close the digital divide for students

Last week, Congressmen Bill Foster (D-IL) introduced the Closing the Digital Divide for Students Act. Foster, whose district lies to the southwest of Chicago, is seeking “...to close the digital divide and ensure that students living in poverty have the tools they need to compete with their peers and work towards a brighter future.”

Foster hopes to provide low-income students with home Internet, using the same system of public assistance that underwrites other necessities. According to Foster’s office:

“Presently, families who live in public housing receive assistance for utilities such as electricity, gas, and water. Broadband Internet access is not included in permitted utilities. This legislation would provide families with students that qualify for free or reduced lunch who live in public housing with broadband Internet access.”

There would be restrictions, such as adult-controlled protective filter. Recipients would have to use the lowest Internet rate, and the assistance would just cover broadband, not cable or satellite TV.

As Foster said, “In today’s economy, access to the Internet is essential to success. Unfortunately, for many students living in poverty, it’s a luxury that they have limited or no access to.”

The Closing the Digital Divide for Students Act may go some distance in removing broadband’s luxury status.

Read the bill here.

Closing the Digital Divide for Students 2014 (Proposed legislation, Rep. Bill Foster, Il, Dec. 2014)

Foster Introduces Legislation To Increase Internet Access For Low Income Students (news release, Congressman Bill Foster [D-IL], Dec. 10, 2014)

Foster Introduces Legislation To Increase Internet Access For Low Income Students
(Chicago Tribune, Dec. 10, 2014)