Internet and nutrition assistance available for college students
Federal budget expands SNAP and broadband benefits for those affected by pandemic
Students in Iowa might be eligible for help paying for broadband access, computers, and food under the latest federal budget, Iowa College Aid and the Iowa Department of Human Services announced today.
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 creates the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help pay for internet service. Households can receive discounts up to $50 a month—$75 on tribal lands—on broadband access and discounts up to $100 on laptop computers, desktop computers, or tablets if they meet any of these conditions:
- A student is eligible for free/reduced price lunch in 2019-20 or 2020-21.
- A student is eligible for the federal Pell Grant in 2020-21.
- Someone in the household has experienced a substantial loss of income during the pandemic, and the household income is below $99,000 for single filers or $198,000 for joint filers.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a program of the Federal Communications Commission. Eligible households will be able to enroll starting today (May 12) at GetEmergencyBroadband.org.
The Appropriations Act also temporarily expands SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) benefits to include all college students who are eligible for work-study or who have an Expected Family Contribution of $0 in the 2020-21 academic year. SNAP is a federal program that provides money to buy fruit, vegetables, and other food. In Iowa, the program is administered by the Iowa Department of Human Services. The expanded eligibility is in effect until 30 days after the federal COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted. Find more information or apply at DHS.Iowa.gov/Food-Assistance.
Mark Wiederspan, the Executive Director of Iowa College Aid, called the Broadband Benefit a lifeline for students. “Our world has gone virtual in the past year, and students who couldn’t go virtual along with it lost their access to education,” he said. “Up-to-date devices and reliable Internet service have never been more important.”