ISTE 2017 Coverage

Funds for Learning Reveals Insights to E-Rate Program Impact

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A new presidential administration and changes at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have raised questions about the future of the federal E-rate program, according to a nationwide survey conducted by Funds for Learning, an E-rate compliance firm. Yet, recipients and applicants continue to rely on the subsidy program and view it as vital, the survey found.

The E-Rate program, otherwise known as the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Services Fund, provides discounts to help schools and libraries in the United States procure affordable telecommunications and internet access, including broadband connections.

Key initial findings by Funds for Learning in the 2017 survey include:

  • 87 percent of respondents said “E-rate funding is vital to their organization’s internet connectivity goals,” according to a news release;
  • 79 percent said “they have faster internet connections to their sites because of E-rate”;
  • 78 percent of respondents said “they were able to connect more students and library patrons to the internet because of the E-rate program.”

“Certainly, the E-rate program is not without its challenges, but the fundamental nature of the program remains as strong as ever,” said John Harrington, CEO of Funds for Learning, in a prepared statement. “While the political climate has shifted, one thing has remained the same: E-rate is vital and will continue to play an indispensible role in connecting schools and communities.”

About 1,100 applicants completed the survey this year, representing approximately 5 percent of all school and library applicants across the nation, the release said. Complete results from the survey will be made available in the fall to help policymakers, administrators and other E-rate stakeholders understand more about the E-rate program.

More about the initial findings from the survey can be discovered at booth 2028 of the ISTE conference in San Antonio, TX, June 25-28. To receive full results this fall, sign up at the Funds for Learning site.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at rchang@1105media.com.

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