Since the last issue of eRate Update, an additional $545 million in funding has been committed to 8,000 applicants. With the seventh wave of funding commitments issued Feb. 3, more than 18,000 applicants have been assured a total of $760 million, or about 40 percent of the money available for the 1998-1999 program year.

The seventh wave, which committed $140 million to 1,500 applicants, established a new high of $93,300 in average funding per applicant. That figure more than doubled the $36,600 per-applicant average of the first six waves.

Subsequent waves will continue to see large increases in the size of awards, SLD officials said, as the agency will be making decisions on many applications from large school districts and consortia that it had yet to consider.

New threshold for wiring requests

With the sixth wave of letters issued Jan. 28, the SLD further narrowed its working thresholds for the funding of internal connections.

For the first time, the agency extended funding for internal connections to applicants who qualify for discounts of 77 percent and above. The SLD also announced that applicants who qualify for discounts of 61 percent or less will not receive funding for their internal connections this year.

Applicants who qualify for discounts between 61 and 77 percent will have to wait until further waves are issued to know whether their internal connections will be funded. The previous thresholds had been 80 percent and above for funding and 49 percent or below for no funding.

With wave six, the SLD also began to issue separate funding commitment letters for different services within a single application. Applicants between 61 and 77 percent should receive one letter for telecommunications services now and a separate letter for internal connections later.

The sixth wave of letters committed $192 million in funds to 3,400 schools and libraries. Wave five, the largest to date, allocated $211 million to 4,500 applicants on Jan. 21.