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Ivey extends program that subsidizes internet access for low-income families with K-12 students

A state program that provides internet access to families with K-12 students has been extended into 2021 by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.

Federal legislation providing a second wave of coronavirus relief was passed by Congress last week and signed on Sunday by President Donald Trump. It paved the way for the extension by moving the deadline by which states must spend the CARES Act money they received to December 31, 2021.

Previously, all CARES Act money was required to be spent by the end of 2020.

The program extended by Ivey on Monday is called Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students (ABC for Students). It was first announced by the governor in the summer ahead of the fall semester.

ABC for Students gives vouchers to certain qualifying families to cover the costs of internet access. Ivey’s office says it helped provide internet to “about 200,000 Alabama students” this past fall.

RELATED: Alabama ‘the leading state with the highest success’ in providing internet to low-income students

As Yellowhammer News reported for the program’s announcement, the “types of equipment and service provided for by the vouchers could include equipment and service for broadband, wireless hot spots, satellite, fixed wireless, DSL, and cellular-on-wheels.”

“I am pleased that we will continue to offer this assistance to the families who are signed up for the program,” Ivey stated on Monday in a release.

The governor’s office relayed that ABC for Students had enough funds remaining from the initially allotted $100 million to cover its costs through the spring semester.

Qualification for the program is based on whether a student was eligible for the National School Lunch Program.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs remains the state agency in charge of administering ABC for Students. It says it is working with internet service providers to give participating families “minimal disruption in service.”

Interested families can call the program’s dedicated hotline at (888) 212-4998 to get more information.

“My hope is that this extension is welcome news for both parents and students during an unusual and difficult school year,” concluded the governor.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.