Funding | News

E-Rate Applications Surge in 2011

Applications for the federal E-rate program were up to 44,139 for the 2011 funding year, representing $4.31 billion in requests, the highest level in nearly a decade, according to an analysis released this week.

E-rate is the FCC program administered by the Universal Service Administrative Co. that supports schools and libraries with discounts on telecommunications and networking equipment. The program is meant to help institutions outfit and support their facilities with telephone and Internet equipment and services. Recent changes to the rules also allow program participants to apply E-rate funds to a wider range of Internet connectivity options, including unused fiber optic lines.

Funds for Learning, which conducted the analysis, is an E-Rate compliance service firm that works with schools and districts to manage their E-Rate applications. The company offers software, including an iPhone app, for tracking and managing schools' E-rate programs, from document archives to form wizards to funding and status tracking.

FFL said this year's applications were at their highest level since 2002 and up 9.95 percent over 2010's $3.92 billion in requests (from 42,713 applications). More than $2.1 billion of that was for Priority 1 funding, which includes Internet access and telecommunications.

The company said these requests are unlikely to cut into Priority 2 funding, since the FCC is rolling over about $600 million from previous years' surplus into 2011 and since typically $150 million of Priority 1 funding is denied.

"There is usually a significant discrepancy between what applicants request, and what is actually committed," said Cathy Cruzan, president of Funds For Learning, in a statement released Monday. "This should allow USAC to fund all Priority 1 requests and leave funds available for Priority 2 consideration. However, due to amount requested, it is likely that the discount threshold for Priority Two requests will remain in the 90 [percent] to 88 percent range."

Further information about E-rate can be found 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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