192 hours vs 10 minutes: Using eScholar DirectMatch for Emergency Broadband Benefit Eligibility Verification

Emergency Broadband Benefit Eligibility Verification & How eScholar DirectMatch Can Help

Since the start of the pandemic, broadband internet access has been essential for any child participating in remote or hybrid learning. However, not every household has had access to broadband, making remote learning a major challenge. Now, with Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), eligible households can now get a discount of up to $50/month towards broadband service. There are several ways to determine eligibility, with one being whether a child participates in the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program. Children that receive free and reduced-price school meals through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), or did so in the 2019-2020 school year, are also eligible, which is a great way to ensure access to EBB funding.

However, the challenge now lies in the process of proving eligibility. During the public comment period to the Federal Communications Commission, the Council of Great City Schools estimated that it could take districts up to 192 hours per month to process income verification requests from Internet Service providers. That is quite a burden on school districts and could potentially slow down the process in which a household can set up broadband.

eScholar DirectMatch and Eligibility

Thankfully, for states that have implemented eScholar DirectMatch, EBB verification can be done quickly and accurately with just a few clicks. eScholar DirectMatch streamlines and automates the paperwork-intensive and time-consuming process of identifying students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, including lunch and breakfast. eScholar DirectMatch manages the program data that qualifies a student for free and reduced-price meals, including but not limited to SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, Foster, Migrant, and Homeless. It also provides functionality to maximize participation in CEP. In just minutes and not hours, a district can run a report in DirectMatch to quickly identify qualified students for the EBB program.

There is so much potential for the EBB program to help ensure all learners have Internet access, and we’re so pleased that DirectMatch can help school districts can accelerate that process. If your state/district has another use case to share, please add it to the comments below!

eScholar comment to WC Docket No. 21-31 to use E-Rate funds to support remote learning
during the COVID-19 pandemic: Access PDF HERE.

FCC Seeks Comment on Emergency Broadband Benefit Program: Access Public Notice HERE.

FCC Report and Order Released on Febuary 26, 2021: Access FCC Response to Comments HERE.

Background:

The Federal Communications Commission established the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to support broadband services and devices to help low-income households stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in the dramatic disruption of many aspects of Americans’ lives, including social distancing measures to prevent person-to-person transmission that has required the closure of businesses and schools across the country for indefinite periods of times, which in turn has caused millions of Americans to become newly unemployed or unable to find work. These closures have also led people to turn to virtual learning, telemedicine, and telework to enable social distancing measures, which has only increased every household’s need for access to broadband services. The cost of broadband services, however, can be difficult to overcome for low-income families and for families that have been struggling during the pandemic.

Learn more about eScholar DirectMatch:

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