Through Partnership, Chico State to Provide Income-Eligible Students with Discounted Tablets
Long known for its commitment to equity and supporting greater access to technology for its campus community, Chico State is partnering with Excess Telecom, a government-sponsored telecom company, to offer Android tablets and free or low-cost data plans to students and community members who demonstrate a need for this service this Wednesday and Thursday at the Bell Memorial Union (BMU) this week.
Anyone who is income-eligible, receives government assistance from programs like CalFresh and Medicaid or has a Pell Grant qualifies for this program. The Android tablet’s retail value is $159, and members of this program can purchase it at a deep discount of $11. The tablet comes with a free data plan of 15 GB per month, and users can enroll in higher data allowances for a monthly fee. No credit card is required to be put on file for this service, and if users go over the free 15 GB allowance, the data will be throttled and still be available at much slower speed until the next month resets the data allowance.
Interested parties can apply online at any time and a tablet will be mailed to them with free ground shipping. Additionally, those interested can sign up in-person on April 12–13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the BMU. Excess Telecom representatives will have 2,000 tablets to give away on site to eligible recipients who sign up in-person—if all 2,000 devices are given away, those interested can still sign up and receive the device in the mail.
Excess Telecom has partnered with other campuses in the past, including Cal State Fullerton as well as California community colleges in Bakersfield, Santa Ana and Orange. Chico State’s Division of IT learned about Excess Telecom through Cal State Fullerton’s success with the program and positive experience working with the team.
The program’s goal is to ease the financial and circumstantial burdens that stand in the way of student success. The University has long known that the “digital divide” impedes access to broadband access for students and residents across the North State. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when Chico State pivoted to online instruction, efforts on campus began in earnest to better meet students’ technology and broadband needs through the addition of 92 wireless access points across campus, laptop loaner programs, and the initiation of ChicoFlex.
IT Director of Technology Equity and Inclusion (TEIN) Jeremy Olguin has spearheaded efforts to bring access to technology into the equation of closing equity gaps for students at Chico State. He compares the growing awareness about the number of students who lack access to devices and internet to a pivotal shift in recent years in understanding the magnitude of food and housing insecurity.
“I hope to build TEIN similar to what Basic Needs modeled on this campus. They started off as a smaller operation and now are a major contributor to the success of our students,” Olguin said.
In the past, TEIN has provided various resources to support technology needs of Chico State students and employees, including free accessibility remediation to any website hosted by the campus, a robust laptop and technology equipment loaner program to students who need immediate help getting computer equipment to do coursework and trainings for software and programs that are used in the University environment.
Hotspot programs are available through TEIN for anyone in need of reliable internet access when programs like Excess Telecom are not an ideal option. Given the rural area Chico State serves, access to reliable internet is a struggle and sometimes prevents the campus community to complete assignments outside of campus, Olguin noted.
If you have questions about this program, visit Information Technology’s website at https://www.csuchico.edu/it/doit-serving-you/free-wifi-resources.shtml or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.