Funds For Learning Proposes Plan to Meet E-rate Program Demands

fundsforlearningThe E-rate program demand estimate for Funding Year 2013 tops $4.9 billion, putting funding availability for internal connections projects in jeopardy.

Funds For Learning®, the nation’s largest E-rate compliance services firm, announced its proposal to modernize the E-rate program this week. The release of the Funds For Learning E-rate 2.0 Proposal comes on the heels of the USAC demand estimate for Funding Year 2013. Total demand is estimated at $4.98 billion, the third highest in the history of the E-rate program.

“Once again, demand for E-rate funding is out-pacing the cap growth,” said Verlyne Jolley, compliance and regulatory, director at Funds For Learning. “The only foreseeable ways that the demand can be met for this year is the uncertain, and unlikely, prospect of unused funds from previous years being applied to the next year, or change to the status quo.”

Funds For Learning assists E-rate applicants from across the nation secure E-rate funds under four categories of service, at two priorities: Priority One: telecommunications services and Internet access, and Priority Two: internal connections and basic maintenance of internal connections. The demand for Priority One services exceeds the funding cap for the entire program, leaving the $2.27 billion requested for Priority Two services in doubt.

“Applicants who rely on E-rate funding to subsidize their internal connections have been unfairly put in a difficult situation,” said Jolley. “If the program’s goals remain to connect students to the Internet, ignoring the possibility that no funds will be available for the necessary conduits isn’t the best approach.”

The Funds For Learning E-rate 2.0 Proposal restructures the current program, calling for an increase in available funds while basing amount of monies received on a per-student basis. The plan also enables schools to choose their own priorities for E-rate funds.

“The best position to judge the priority of funding is at the applicant level,” said Brian Stephens, senior technology and regulatory analyst at Funds For Learning. “[The Funds For Learning E-rate 2.0 Proposal] gives the power to the applicants, enabling them to determine which projects should take priority.”

Drawing from 16 years of experience in guiding E-rate stakeholders through the funding process, the Funds For Learning E-rate 2.0 Proposal allows funding commitments to be issued more quickly, while at the same time limiting excessive requests and guarding against the waste, fraud and abuse of E-rate funds per entity.

“Our goals have always been in line with the spirit of the E-rate program,” said Stephens. “While we believe that our proposal offers a great solution to the problem of rising demand for program funding, our desire is to create a sustainable model that continues to bring Internet access to every classroom in the country.”

This proposal is the latest in a long line of actions Funds For Learning has taken on behalf of increasing the amount of available funding for the E‑rate community. In November 2011, John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning, penned an open letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, requesting that the commission increase the available funding in the E-rate program.

E-rate stakeholders can view the proposal in its entirety, as well as other historical data pertaining to the Funds For Learning E-rate 2.0 proposal, here.

About Funds For Learning

Funds For Learning, LLC, is an E-rate compliance firm specializing in guiding E-rate applicants through the E-rate regulatory process and is an advocate for the use of educational technologies and student Internet access. Formed in 1997, Funds For Learning has more than 150 combined years of experience in providing professional advice and assistance relating to the E-rate program, and exists to provide high-quality solutions for the needs of E-rate stakeholders. For more information, visit www.FundsForLearning.com or phone 405-341-4140.

More EdTech Times articles on Funds For Learning or the E-rate program:

ISTE Launches White House Petition to Invest in School Broadband Connectivity (April 10, 2013)

Funds for Learning Releases 2012 Survey of E-Rate Applicants (October 22, 2012)

Funds for Learning Releases New Version of E-Rate Manager (September 14, 2012)