Some Fast Facts
Millions of low-income families lack access to a computer in the home. This contributes to a growing digital divide where completing schoolwork or college and job applications becomes increasingly difficult.

  • According to the Pew Research Center, 46% of housholds with incomes below $30,000 per year don’t have a traditional computer.

  • In what has become known as the "homework gap", nearly half of students in the bottom income bracket rely on smartphones to complete assignments due to the absence of a computer at home.

  • Teachers in schools with a high percentage of low-income students or schools with more than 75% of students of color are more likely to say that a majority of their students do not have home access to the internet or a computer. 

  • About 33 percent of college students are taking at least one course online, according to a survey by the Babson Survey Research Group. These courses are virtually inaccessible for those without computer hardware.

  • According to the Pew Research Center, among Americans who have looked for work in the last two years, 79% utilized online resources in their most recent job search and 34% say these online resources were the most important tool available to them. Without a computer at home, online job searches become much harder.
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While the number of computers available to students in public schools has increased in recent years, a recent study noted that students actually benefit the most from home computer use.

Not only do more than 90 percent of students with computers at home use them to complete school assignments, using a computer at home presents opportunities for “unpressured use,” allowing young people to increase their computer skills, research their own areas of interest, and engage in creative endeavors without time constraints.

Some lower-income students do have access to smartphones, but these devices do not serve as a substitute for a home computer. As Education Week points out, “While many high school students have smartphones, lower-income students who lack home access to high-speed Internet and computers struggle with the college admissions process and also in doing their homework, such as research for papers."

Unfortunately, the cost of laptops and desktops continue to represent an insurmountable barrier to ownership for lower income households. Over 34% of households with an annual income of $50,000 yearly (or less) do not have a computer in the home, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

The issue is more pronounced in New York City where 23.8% of all households do not have a computer in the home compared to 20.5% for the rest of the United States, according to a study published by the New York City's Comptroller's Office. Within NYC, the Bronx demonstrates the highest rate of households without a computer at 37%. The data also suggests that minority groups, specifically Black (41%) and Hispanic (29%), experience higher rates of homes without computers.