Funds For Learning Shares New Vision for the E-rate Program - Tech Learning

Funds For Learning Shares New Vision for the E-rate Program

Funds For Learning, the nation’s largest E-rate compliance services firm, proposes a vision that would enable the E-rate program to have a critical impact for years to come. The firm emphasizes increased funding, simplified processes and a solutions-minded approach to reform. Funds For Learning proposed a new discount budget system, which would allow applicants to foresee the maximum amount of discounts they could request.
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E-rate firm’s comments to the FCC emphasize increased funding, simplified processes and a solutions-minded approach to program reform

Edmond, Okla. (Sept. 19, 2013)Funds For Learning®, the nation’s largest E-rate compliance services firm, this week shared a vision that will enable the E-rate program to have a critical impact on education for years to come. Drawing on more than 16 years of experience and its proprietary E-rate Manager® database of information, Funds For Learning presented the FCC with the following recommendations for reforming and updating the landmark funding program:

  • Increase funding to $4.5 billion per year. School budgets are tight, and their computer networks are lagging. The available E-rate funding for schools has increased 5 percent since 1998. During that same time, schools have increased their Internet access and telecommunications services by 321 percent.
  • Restore local decision-making and technology planning. Rather than the current FCC-mandated technology choices, schools would set their own funding priorities.
  • Streamline work with one Form 471 application. Applicants would submit one funding application rather than multiple “Priority 1” and “Priority 2” applications, as they are encouraged to do today.
  • Make it easier to plan with set filing window dates. Rather than waiting each year to find out when the filing window will open, the filing window dates would be set much like they are for taxes.
  • Release funding sooner. The proposed system allows USAC, the fund administrator, to issue funding commitments much earlier in the year. Knowing that the funds have been committed helps schools plan to use their technology more effectively.
  • Keep the program solution-minded. Technology changes much more rapidly than federal regulations. Funds For Learning urges the FCC not to set quotas on the types or quantities of technology used to connect students.
  • Protect small and rural schools. Funds For Learning proposes specific safeguards for small and rural schools to ensure that they receive E-rate discounts. Today, no such safeguards exist, and many of these schools are at risk of losing out on E-rate funds.
  • Preserve what works. The original discount rate matrix and eligible services framework are strong. Funds For Learning requests that the FCC keep and expand the eligible services list, and maintain the existing sliding scale of E-rate discounts. Busy applicants don’t have time to needlessly learn new forms and procedures.

“Across the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Alaska and territories that stretch halfway around the globe, E-rate funds are being put to work every day to bring our communities closer together and to equip and empower our students for success,” said John D. Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning. “This funding program is essential to our students’ futures and the nation’s global competitiveness, and we now have the opportunity to implement reform measures that ensure the program’s lasting impact on schools and libraries.”

To bring about these improvements, Funds For Learning proposed a new discount budget system. Under this system, applicants will request E-rate discounts just as they have every year, but with one important difference. Rather than the current unpredictable discount threshold denials, applicants would know ahead of time the maximum amount of discounts that they could request. This maximum would be calculated based on the applicant’s size, location and E-rate discount rate. The new system would mean 100 percent of applicants could receive discounts on critical Internal Connections equipment, as well as other eligible connectivity services.

E-rate applicants can estimate the amount of E-rate support that would be available to their entity under the Funds For Learning Proposal with a free and easy-to-use wizard on the company’s website. The wizard can be accessed here.

Rising demand for Internet access, combined with 1990’s-era regulations, has shifted the program away from its core mission of connecting students. Today, the E-rate program routinely denies funding for critical networking infrastructure, such as Wi-Fi hot spots; and on its current course, the majority of E-rate applicants will likely be denied funding for any services within two years.

Funds For Learning’s comments to the FCC may be read in their entirety 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 provides professional advice and assistance relating to the E-rate program to clients in all 50 states. For more information, visit or phone 405-341-4140.

Media Contacts
• Brian Stephens, Funds For Learning, LLC, 405-471-0945,
• Emily Embury, C. Blohm & Associates, 608-216-7300 x19,



Funds For Learning Makes Case for Translating Vision to Action in E-rate Reform

Funds For Learning®, the nation’s largest E-rate compliance services firm, briefed the media this week on President Obama’s ConnectED initiative and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent E-rate Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). John D. Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning, explained that while the vision of reform is easy to understand, translating that vision to action is more challenging. Funds For Learning estimates network and connectivity upgrades necessary to adequately connect U.S. schools would cost billions, given current pricing models, but there are a number of ways raising the E-rate funding cap could happen.

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

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. 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. 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.

Funds For Learning Report Indicates Progress and Pitfalls of E-rate Program promo image

Funds For Learning Report Indicates Progress and Pitfalls of E-rate Program

Edmond, Okla. (Dec. 13, 2017) – The impending decision by the FCC to maintain or repeal Net Neutrality raises questions about how internet regulation could impact connectivity for U.S. schools and libraries. To help educate and support discussions regarding the importance of broadband connection and E-rate funding, Funds For Learning releases its annual 2017 E-rate Trends Report. Based on a survey of approximately 1,100 participants who closely resemble the total population of E-rate applicants, the 2017 E-rate Trends Report analyzes the strengths of the program in supporting connectivity goals and highlights areas for improvement. Results include:    ·      Data and internet services accounted for $2.5 billion of the $4.9 billion in services supported by E-rate.     ·      90 percent of survey respondents expect their school or district’s internet bandwidth to increase over the next three years.    ·      Only 18 percent of survey respondents believe that the current budget cap is sufficient to meet their school’s needs.    ·      55 percent of respondents would change the Eligible Services list to include Voice Services.    ·      73 percent of respondents believe that insufficient off-campus internet access for students or library patrons is a significant issue in their community. ·          ·      44 percent of respondents do not believe that the E-rate application program is fast, simple and efficient.

Funds For Learning Reveals Initial Insights to E-rate Program Impact promo image

Funds For Learning Reveals Initial Insights to E-rate Program Impact

Funds For Learning (@FFL), the leading E-rate experts, recently conducted its annual, nationwide survey to get feedback from applicants on the E-rate program. Amidst recent political and FCC changes, the survey found that 87 percent of respondents said the E-rate program remains a vital resource for their schools and libraries. 

Funds For Learning Debuts New E-rate Manager Packages

Funds For Learning, the nation’s largest E-rate compliance firm, today announced expanded user package options for the award-winning E-rate Manager® tool. The new packages will give E-rate Manager users the ability to select from three feature-specific packages that will best serve the size and scope of the user.

Funds For Learning Analysis of E-rate Data Reveals Fastest Funding Decision in Program History promo image

Funds For Learning Analysis of E-rate Data Reveals Fastest Funding Decision in Program History

Funds For Learning (@FFL) has announced vital E-rate data analysis at the 2016 ISTE Conference and Expo in Denver today. After the filing window for schools closed on May 26, the 2016 E-rate program saw the fastest funding decision in the program’s 20-year history, demonstrating the importance of internet connections for schools and libraries. To learn more, please read below or visit booth #1823 during ISTE.

Funds For Learning Announces Mobile Version of E-rate Manager

Funds For Learning announces the latest update to its award-winning E-rate Manager service. E-rate Manager for Mobile enables iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry users the opportunity to quickly and easily track funding data on the go. Building on the success of the E-rate Manager for iPhone application, the mobile version of E‑rate Manager provides simple site navigation and instant access to the most up‑to‑date E‑rate funding information. Whether in the office or on location at different schools within a district, E‑rate Manager for Mobile offers users convenient 24-hour access to their E-rate data.

Funds For Learning Survey Reveals Priorities of E-rate Applicants

As a follow-up to a survey conducted in 2008-09, Funds For Learning has released results from its national 2012 Survey of E-rate Applicants. The results indicate a continued reliance on E-rate funding, particularly for broadband connectivity. In fact, 42 percent of respondents say Internet access is the most important category of service in the E-rate program. Approximately 90 percent of respondents indicate that E-rate funding is critical to their success, but only 30 percent believe the program is adequately funded. Responses were gathered over two months, and the aggregate results will be shared with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in hopes of positively influencing E-rate policy.

Funds For Learning Proposal Supports ConnectED Implementation

Earlier this month, President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative, a plan to connect 99 percent of U.S. students to the Internet within five years via high-speed wireless and broadband. The FCC has been called upon to “modernize and leverage” the E-rate program, including a proposed funding increase. Funds For Learning met with the FCC to submit the firm’s E-rate 2.0 proposal, which provides recommended steps for implementing ConnectED. The proposal would “create an E‑rate program that is future-ready, equitable, predictable and scalable,” said Funds For Learning CEO John D. Harrington.