WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced her original co-sponsorship of the Supporting Connectivity for Higher Education Students in Need Act, bipartisan legislation that would help ensure that college and university students with the greatest financial needs can access high-speed internet during the coronavirus pandemic. Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, far too many college and graduate students lacked adequate broadband access,” said Senator Rosen. “The recent closure of college campuses nationwide has only exacerbated this digital inequality. My colleagues and I are working to increase access to broadband and home internet connectivity so that we can bridge the digital divide affecting so many of our nation’s higher education students.”
BACKGROUND: The Supporting Connectivity for Higher Education Students in Need Act would appropriate $1 billion to establish an Emergency Higher Education Connectivity fund at the National Telecommunications Information Administration to help ensure that college and university students at historically Black colleges and universities, Tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions, as well as rural-serving institutions, have adequate home internet connectivity during the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill would provide federal support for these colleges and universities to directly help students in need pay for at-home internet connections and equipment such as routers, modems, Wi-Fi hotspots, laptops, tablets, and internet-enabled devices to students. Under the bill, institutions that receive funding must prioritize students eligible for need-based financial aid, such as Pell Grants.