A lot has changed over the past 18 months. This is especially true for high school students, who’ve had to navigate a complicated network of challenges from remote learning to planning for off-campus testing and graduation. Having access to the internet has been an essential advantage for students during this time.

Even though the pandemic is temporary, distance learning is here to stay. And, in the age of distance learning, internet access is not a luxury. It is something that students need in order to succeed.

Unfortunately, many students do not have access to home internet. According to Federal data, about one in seven households with school-aged children lack internet access. Almost all these households are working families that make less than $50,000 per year.

What can we do to address this problem? Fortunately, there are some resources available to help.

Emergency Broadband Benefit

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the pandemic.

What it Offers

The program offers a discount of up to $50 per month for broadband service and associated equipment rentals. That discount increases to $75 per month discount for households located on qualified tribal lands. The program also offers a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.

How to Apply

Go to http://getemergencybroadband.org/ to apply for the program. You can also call (833) 511-0311 for a mail-in application, or mail a print copy along with documents showing proof of eligibility. The documents you need will be outlined on the form.


PCsforPeople is a non-profit organization described as “a driving force behind digital inclusion efforts across the US.” Their focus is on donation-based computer distribution, internet service, education, and electronic recycling, and other efforts.

What it Offers

PCsforPeople offers reduced-priced access to unlimited data using a hotspot provided by the organization. At the time of this writing, they have three prepaid plans are available: 3 months of service at $45 ($15/mo), 6 months of service at $85 ($14.16/mo), or 12 months of service for $135 ($11.25/mo).

How to Apply

First, your household must be within 200% of the federal poverty level. That means that, at the time of this writing, your family must make less than $53,000 per year for a family of four. You can also apply if your family receives SNAP benefits, free or reduced-cost lunch, or Section 8 housing, or if someone in your family qualified for a Pell Grant. You can learn more and apply for this offer here: https://ebb.pcsrefurbished.com/ebb

Spectrum Internet Assist

Spectrum Internet Assist is another option for Pinellas County students. The program is offered by Spectrum, a local internet service provider.

What it Offers

Eligible students may qualify for reduced-price internet access at $17.99 per month.

How to Apply

Applicants need to have at least one child who receives free or reduced-price lunch at school. They must also not be a Spectrum subscriber, and have no outstanding bills with the company. You (or a parent) can apply for the program here: https://www.spectrum.com/internet/spectrum-internet-assist

Anything Else?

We strongly recommend applying for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program first. This program, offered by the federal government, will generally have the lowest barrier to entry. However, you can apply to multiple programs at the same time to try and find help from different sources.

Also, remember that this is not an exhaustive list. There could be many other opportunities out there to receive additional or supplementary help with internet access. Good luck!