Schools that applied for Year Four eRate discounts will receive notification of funding starting this week. The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Co.–the group that administers the program–said it would mail the first wave of funding letters to 23,800 applicants and 5,100 service providers on July 23.

The first wave will commit more than $395 million in eRate discounts and will reach about 70 percent of the total number of applicants, an SLD notice said. But about 6,000 of the letters will not contain funding, because they represent requests for internal connections from applicants who qualify for discounts below 85 percent.

At this point in the processing of Year Four applications, it is clear there will be enough money to fund all requests for so-called Priority One services, or telecommunications services and internet access.

But, given the extraordinarily high demand for discounts this year ($5.2 billion in requests, or nearly double the $2.25 billion cap on funding), the SLD said it’s unclear whether applicants who qualify for discounts of 85 percent to 89 percent will get funding for internal connections–or even whether there will be enough money to fund all requests for internal connections from the 90-percent discount band.

Thus, in the first wave of letters, approved requests for internal connections at a 90-percent discount will appear with a status of “As Yet Unfunded,” and those applicants will get a second letter when it becomes clear whether there’s enough money to fund these requests in full or whether the requests will have to be funded on a prorated basis.

No applicants who requested discounts of 85 percent to 89 percent on internal connections will receive a letter in this first wave.

Applicants should note there’s a new version of Form 486, which is used to notify the SLD of when services begin. This new version, expected to be posted to the SLD’s web site July 23, includes the certifications required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (see eSN Exclusive: Filtering and the eRate: What you need to know right now for more information) and also is available by calling the SLD’s Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100. The agency will not accept older versions of the form.

The SLD promises additional waves of funding letters every two weeks. Wave Two will be mailed on Friday, August 3, and all subsequent waves will be mailed on Fridays as well, with information about each wave posted on the SLD’s web site the following Monday.

Links:

Schools and Libraries Division
http://www.sl.universalservice.org