On Dec. 1, the Schools and Libraries Corp. (SLC) began accepting applications for the 1999-2000 eRate. The new window opened just as applicants were beginning to see the fruits of their labors from last year. Ten months and countless headaches after the 1998 application window opened, the SLC--the group set up to administer the discounts--reached a major milestone when it issued its first wave of funding commitments to about 3,000 applicants in late November.

The federal program got off to a rocky start in 1998. Critics in Congress attacked the eRate's "bloated bureaucracy," the Federal Communications Commission cut funding by 40


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