NECC 2009 News

E-rate Sees Surge in Support

The federal E-rate program has seen a spike this year in its approval among applicants, according to a new report released this week by Funds For Learning, a firm that provides consulting services to E-rate applicants. The report was announced at the National Education Computing Conference (NECC) being held this week in Washington, DC.

E-rate provides schools and libraries with discounts on telecommunications, Internet, and networking technologies and services for schools and libraries.

According to the research, a greater number of program participants have had positive experiences with the E-rate program than in 2008. In terms of program management, 73 percent of survey respondents "gave positive marks to the Federal Communications Commission and the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company, an increase over last year's 65.5 percent," according to Funds For Learning. Twenty percent "strongly agreed" (as opposed to merely "agreed") that the E-rate program is well managed. This compares with 14 percent in 2008.

Also ascendant were participant's positive attitudes toward the impact of E-rate on their schools and libraries. A large 71 percent of respondents (versus only 59 percent last year) indicated that their organizations have more classrooms connected to the Internet as a result of E-rate than they would if there were no E-rate program. Furthermore, more than half of those responding said that they "would not be able to maintain their level of classroom connectivity without E-rate funding."

For the first time, the survey also asked participants questions about E-rate audits. Fifteen percent indicated that they had been audited within the last two years, with 72.5 percent saying that nothing came of the audit. For those who did see a result from their audit, most experienced problems related to retaining documentation.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Fifty-seven percent of respondents said their organizations have only one person managing E-rate for them, while 42 percent had two to five people and 1 percent had more than five;
  • Forty-six percent of applicants who requested more than $100,000 in E-rate discounts used outside help; and
  • The number of hours spent managing E-rate each month increases with the amount of funds requested each year, ranging from six hours per month for those who request less than $10,000 annually to 68 hours per month for those who request more than $1 million annually.

Further information about the research and other E-rate topics can be found on the Funds For Learning site here. A complete copy of the survey can be downloaded in the form of a PDF here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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