When the filing window opens later this fall, applicants will find no major changes to next year's e-Rate, the $2.25 billion-a-year federal program that provides discounts on telecommunications services to eligible schools and libraries. What they will find instead is a program that is more dedicated to helping e-Rate newcomers--as many as half of all applicants are in their first year of experience with the program--understand how to apply for their share of funding assistance quickly and efficiently.

Mel Blackwell, vice president of the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the agency that administers the


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