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In this day and age, connectivity is a lifeline to a world of resources necessary for success. As the world rapidly shifts online, from classrooms to boardrooms, the importance of affordable internet for college students has never been more pronounced. 

Yet, a significant portion of our society finds themselves on the fringes, grappling with the challenges of the digital divide. This lack of access goes far beyond just making it hard to stream videos or scroll on social media; it prevents access to education, employment opportunities, and other essential services. 

For many college students, especially those from underserved communities, consistent internet access – and, with it, high educational performance – remains an elusive dream. Thankfully, there are a growing number of options available to students today who need cheap internet. That’s why we wanted to take the time to explore some of the best cheap internet plans for students, as well as dive into how students can get free internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program. 

Table of Contents

The Digital Divide in Higher Education

The Current State of Connectivity in Colleges

Despite the critical role of the internet in modern education, a staggering number of students find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. 

According to a 2022 study from New America, last year, 25% of community college students lacked a reliable internet connection at home, while 20% of respondents experienced an unstable internet connection. Together, these factors significantly hinder academic progress and contribute to stress. Research from Michigan State University found that students without consistent internet access scored lower in standardized tests, further widening the achievement gap. 

This disparity in access extends beyond the classroom and has lasting repercussions in the digital age. Students limited by inconsistent internet often miss out on networking opportunities, virtual internships, and online workshops. They may experience social isolation, miss out on financial literacy education and scholarship opportunities. 

And with the shift to telehealth, students with unreliable (or no) internet access may not get the mental health help they need. All of this hinders their personal and professional growth, limits their exposure to diverse global perspectives, and reduces their competitiveness in an increasingly digital job market. Adding to the already detrimental effects of this digital divide.

Additionally, long-term academic success in the classroom is also limited by this disparity. Students who consistently face barriers in accessing online resources are less likely to participate in online group discussions, engage in interactive learning experiences, or even consider online courses or degrees in the future. 

But the weight of this disconnectivity crisis isn’t borne equally by all. Black, Hispanic, indigenous, and rural students are disproportionately affected. A comprehensive report from MHEC highlighted that these groups, often residing in areas with limited broadband infrastructure, face the brunt of the digital divide. 

As you can see, the digital divide isn’t just a technological issue—it’s an educational equity issue, and its ramifications can shape the lifelong trajectories of these students.

Providing truly affordable internet options for college students is about creating an even playing field where every student, no matter their background, has an equal opportunity to thrive academically. Let’s look at the various internet plans available to students and how they can navigate these options to find the best fit for their needs.

Top 5 Affordable Internet Plans for College Students

For many college students, high-speed internet can seem like a far away luxury rather than a necessity. Recognizing this challenge, several internet service providers and government initiatives have stepped up to offer affordable internet plans tailored to the needs of students. Let’s explore five of the more promising and affordable internet plans available to low-income college students.

Astound Broadband Internet First

Price: $10/month

Speed: 50Mbps

Features: No contracts, first 60 days free, no credit checks or installation fees.

Pros: Budget-friendly, suitable speed for solo online tasks, no binding commitments.

Cons: Might not cover every student’s location.

AT&T Access from AT&T

Price: $30/month or less

Speed: 100Mbps

Features: Unlimited data, no contracts, no installation fees, free Wi-Fi modem.

Pros: Consistent service for simultaneous device usage, no surprise fees.

Cons: Slightly pricier for those on a tight budget.

Cox Connect2Compete

Price: $10/month

Speed: 100Mbps

Features: No contracts, free installation, free Wi-Fi hotspot access, Wi-Fi modem rental at no charge, data cap of 1.25TB.

Pros: Comprehensive package for online classes and leisure streaming.

Cons: Data cap might restrict extensive downloads or video uploads.

Mediacom Connect2Compete

Price: $10/month for 25Mbps or $30/month for 100Mbps

Features: No deposit, no contracts, free installation, equipment rental, and Wi-Fi modem.

Pros: Options for varying budgets, no initial costs.

Cons: The lower-tier plan might lag with multiple users during peak times.

Optimum Advantage Internet

Price: $15/month

Speed: 50Mbps

Features: No contracts, free modem/router, free installation, unlimited data.

Pros: Balanced price-to-speed ratio, no worries about data overages.

Cons: Limited regional availability might exclude some students.

Choosing the right plan isn’t just about price or speed; it’s about ensuring uninterrupted access to academic resources and staying connected with peers and professors. As we look deeper into the world of connectivity support, let’s explore the transformative impact of initiatives like the government-funded Affordable Connectivity Program and how it is an asset in bridging the digital divide.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Human-I-T’s Role

Understanding the ACP

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a government program that acts as a lifeline for students who need affordable internet access. Spearheaded by the Federal Communications Commission, the ACP offers monthly discounts on broadband services from participating ISPs. With subsidies of up to $30/month and $75/month for those on tribal lands, the dream of uninterrupted, high-speed internet is now within reach for many.

Eligibility hinges on various factors, including household income and participation in specific government assistance programs. The full spectrum of eligibility criteria can be explored here.

Navigating the maze of affordable internet plans can be daunting. With so many options, terms, and conditions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But what if there was a guiding hand to lead you through the process, ensuring you get the best deal tailored to your needs? Enter Human-I-T.

Human-I-T’s ACP Benefits for College Students

At Human-I-T, we believe in the power of the ACP to help students connect to the limitless options available to them online. That’s why we offer special deals to students who apply for ACP benefits through Human-I-T. 

Don’t worry! We’ll guide you one-on-one through the ACP application to make sure you can make the most of your ACP benefits. Additionally, students who qualify for the ACP also receive an exclusive $100 discount off the purchase price of certain ACP-eligible computers from our online store. This means students who sign up for the ACP through Human-I-T can get a laptop, hotspot, and free monthly internet for less than $150 total

So, why wait? Get the cheapest and most affordable internet for college students with Human-I-T so you can excel in and out of the classroom. 

Liz Cooper

About Liz Cooper