Funds For Learning invites E-rate applicants to submit funding requests beginning January 15, 2021
Funds For Learning announces that the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) opened the E-rate filing window on January 15, 2021, and will accept applications until March 25, 2021. The 24th year of the E-rate program enters a new phase of regulations intended to increase equity and streamline the application process.
“Applicants from across the United States will begin submitting forms to ensure the 95 percent of K-12 students who are supported by the E-rate program stay connected,” said John Harrington, CEO at Funds For Learning. “With funding requests increasing over the past three years, it’s clear that the E-rate program plays a crucial role in helping schools and libraries secure much needed funds for essential broadband services.”
Funding Year (FY) 2021 marks the first year that Category 2 rules finalized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will take effect, including:
- Applicant budgets will be reset. School district Category Two budgets will be calculated at $167 per student, and library applicants at $4.50 per square foot. In addition, the per-site funding “floor” will increase from $9,200 to $25,000.
- The program adopts ‘fixed’ five-year budget cycles. The first cycle will run from FY 2021 through FY 2025, and Applicants can submit applications in any or all Funding Years during this five-year cycle.
- Category 2 budgets will be calculated on a school district or library system basis. School districts and libraries have a single budget to administer.
- Equipment transfer rules will be relaxed. Equipment purchased in FY 2021 and forward may be transferred between eligible sites at any time, providing increased flexibility to applicants while decreasing program complexity.
With the application window closing on March 25, the latest date that applicants will be able to file an FCC Form 470 while still allowing the required 28 days for competitive bidding will be February 25, 2021.