Florida District Taps E-Rate Funds with Help of Online Software


Florida's Okaloosa County School District has made substantial use of E-rate Manager for Applicants, and district administrators find it has made a big difference in their ability to secure funds from the federal E-rate program, according to information released by the district. The online suite of software applications, developed by Edmond, OK-based Funds for Learning, is designed to make the myriad of application requirements for E-rate funding much easier to navigate.

Randy Shipman, systems coordinator for OCSD, said E-rate is a key source of funding for the district and said he believes the ERMA suite was instrumental in the district receiving more than $500,000 in E-rate funds this year. "From the student perspective, it levels the playing field by providing funding for technology and equipment that some of the more affluent districts have access to," he said

Shipman also noted that, as with many federal programs, the rules and the required paperwork change frequently, and staying on top of the program's requirements is a full-time job. ERMA helps him keep track of program disbursements, maintain invoices, track program-related data about district technology, and, because E-rate requires five-year retention of all program-related documents, store such information in a secure but still readily accessible online folder with 1 GB of storage.

E-rate Manager for Applicants is available as an annual subscription-per-user fee based on student population.  The price of a year's subscription starts at $249.

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.