Congressman Bill Foster

Representing the 11th District of Illinois

Foster Introduces Legislation To Increase Internet Access For Low Income Students

Dec 10, 2014
Press Release

Washington, DC—Today, Congressmen Bill Foster (IL-11) introduced the Closing the Digital Divide for Students Act. This legislation would help low-income children compete at a high level with their peers by providing internet access for students living in poverty.

Text of the legislation is available here.

“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,” said Foster. “I’ve introduced this legislation 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.”

Internet access is expensive, especially for low-income families. Additionally, while students may have access to the Internet in their schools or public libraries, there may be a time limit for usage, if there is a computer available at all.  Students may also have difficulty obtaining transportation home even if their school does provide lab time after school. High school students whose work involves long research projects often need additional time to complete their assignments. A lack of broadband access also makes it difficult for young people to obtain jobs and internships where they can learn the skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

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. Families would be required to use the broadband provider in their area at the lowest possible rate. They would also pay for the installation. Neither cable nor satellite television would be covered.  Finally, a protective filter would be included with the service that an adult in the household could regulate.