BSU Study: 68,000 Indiana students don’t have internet at home

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("Keyboard of a computer" by Marco Verch, CC BY 2.0)

A Ball State study estimates at least 68-thousand Indiana school kids don’t have Internet access at home.

The Census Bureau says one in five Indiana households lacks Internet access. Ball State economist Michael Hicks says most of them don’t have kids. But he estimates one in 15 do. The total could be as high as 84-thousand, or one in 13.

Hicks says the heaviest concentrations of unwired students are in Indianapolis and in rural areas, in the counties surrounding Terre Haute and in northeast and southeast Indiana. He says parts of northwest Indiana, like Gary and Michigan City, are close behind.

Unsurprisingly, the study finds low-income families and single-parent households are least likely to have Internet access. And Hicks says while the study didn’t quantify it, there are probably three times as many students whose connections are too weak to support learning tools like assignment downloads or Zoom classrooms.

Because of the pandemic, many school districts are either starting the year online or using a hybrid of online and in-person classes. Hicks warns students without connectivity are starting out behind because of learning time they lost when the pandemic halted the last school year. Hicks says it’ll take a community effort to keep them from losing more if school goes online again.

Hicks notes Ball State cranked up the wi-fi in its buildings so people could get access in university parking lots over the summer. He says communities need to think outside the box, perhaps by retrofitting vacant warehouses or big-box stores as socially distanced classrooms.

Governor Holcomb announced a 62-million-dollar grant fund last month to help schools get devices and connections to students who don’t have it.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am certain that colleges are going to offer greatly reduced tuitions since students won’t be on campus as much or at all. (LOL) This money that students are saving should be just fine to use for internet. Oh wait…can’t expect people to pay for things on their own anymore in our socialist-communist country. Holcomb will wave his magic wand and “POOF!!!” there will be money for everyone. Next will be “POOF!!!” need more taxes to pay for it. Here is an original idea…Have the students actually go to college. There is not a single piece of evidence that should be preventing it. People have gone crazy believing all the crap on social media and from our incapable government officials.

    • Pretty sure it was a discussion about K12 students, not college, but it is still bunk and should not be a giveaway.

      Comcast offers a supremely cheap student access package to low income people (like $10/mo if I remember correctly). The real issue is that many students live on rural streets where broadband simply is not available. I’m not advocating that government money be used to force universal access (as was done for phones), but certainly getting some regulations out of the way to lower costs would help with service rollouts to these areas.

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