These days the most important school supply students need is a computer with access to the Internet. Comcast recently announced its Internet Essentials program to try to assist families facing tough times.
If a family has at least one child in their household eligible for the federal free lunch program at their school, they may qualify for $9.95/month pricing on a Comcast broadband plan. The price will not rise as long as the family continues to meet eligibility requirements. The plan also has an option for a family to purchase a computer for $149.
Free lunches are generally available to students with family income 130 percent or less of the federal poverty level. Eligibility is determined at the beginning of each school year. For example, a family of four earning less than $29,055 would qualify for the plan.
Homework assignments require research, presentations and access to classroom websites. But for many, Internet access may be a luxury as food, shelter, transportation and utilities remain at the forefront of priorities. Many poor families go to libraries to access to the Internet, but this can be an inconvenience for a busy family, and can be a roadblock that deters a promising future.
The Lines of Communication
Parents communicate with teachers and school administrators using email and school websites. Online gradebooks are available, school schedules and other resources are accessed by computer as the school saves the printing costs associated with paper handouts and newsletters.
For all of us, the cost of a computer and broadband Internet is significant. Imagine how much harder it can be if you are barely getting by. You could be unemployed or working jobs that don't pay enough to raise your family income much above the poverty level.
The Right Thing To Do
This program goes a great way in helping families manage a tight budget and ensure that their kids have a level playing field with those who have greater resources. This is not a government-sponsored program and does not require additional funds from taxpayers. Comcast does benefit from exclusive franchise agreements as a cable provider in many parts of the country.
Helping to support the communities that it operates in is the right thing to do, and this program will hopefully make a difference for the families who take advantage of these reduced prices.