The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Co.–the group that administers the eRate–mailed the first wave of funding commitment letters for Year Four of the eRate to 23,800 applicants and 5,100 service providers on July 23.

The first wave committed more than $395 million in eRate discounts and reached about 70 percent of the total number of applicants, an SLD notice said. But about 6,000 of the letters did not contain funding, because they represented 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 appeared 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 received 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, which was posted to the SLD’s web site in late July, includes the certifications required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (see http://www.eschoolnews.com/showstory.cfm?ArticleID=2677 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 was 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