How much money is needed to connect how many students?

$6.8 billion in E-Rate funding would connect 17 million to high-speed home internet
By: | July 23, 2020
31% of Black households lack high-speed home internet and 17% don’t have a computer, a new analysis has found. (GettyImages/Willie B. Thomas) 31% of Black households lack high-speed home internet and 17% don’t have a computer, a new analysis has found. (GettyImages/Willie B. Thomas)

The digital “homework gap” in online learning is wider than has been previously estimated, with one-third of Black, Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native students lacking high-speed home internet access, according to a new analysis.

Nearly 17 million students require better internet access than ineffective mobile phones. Another group had added its voice to the many education advocacy organizations asking Congress to provide billions in E-rate funding in the Emergency Education Connections Act as part of the next COVID-19 relief package.

Some $6.8 billion is needed as school leaders prepare to offer a blend of online and in-person instruction this school year, says the analysis done by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the National Indian Education Association, the National Urban League and UnidosUS

“Asking students—many of whom are from low-income or rural homes—to try to learn with a family member’s cell phone or with paper packets is neither acceptable nor sustainable,” All4Ed president and CEO Deborah Delisle said. “What we offer to our students tells them what it is we value. This is our time to show we care.”


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Black, Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native students are more likely than their White classmates are to be disconnected from online learning, according to the analysis, which tracked inequities state-by-state.

The report also found that:

  • 34% of American Indian/Alaska Native households lack high-speed internet access and almost 16% don’t have a computer.
  • 36% of rural Americans lack high-speed home internet and 14% don’t have a computer.
  • 31% of Latino families lack high-speed home internet and 17% don’t have a computer.
  • 31% of Black households lack high-speed home internet and 17% don’t have a computer.
  • 44.5% of households making less than $25,000 annually lack high-speed home internet and nearly 29% don’t have a computer.

“Roadblocks, including internet connectivity and access to a computer or tablet, have denied students of color the opportunity to meaningfully engage in online learning, resulting in learning loss and widening achievement gaps,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía.

Equity initiatives

The Georgia Department of Education on Thursday announced a partnership with Verizon to provide discounted 4G Internet service for students in 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Schools can purchase service through the Georgia Sponsor State Distance Learning Initiative and find more information on the Verizon Distance Learning Information site.


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