USAC announces that it has “identified” additional funds that “would be sufficient” to make commitments to all pending Funding Year 2010 Priority Two applications at the 80% discount level

EDMOND, OKLA. (July 14, 2011) – In a surprising but welcome change of course from earlier this year, the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) officially announced to the FCC yesterday that it has identified additional monies to fund Funding Year 2010 E-rate Priority Two (internal connections and basic maintenance of internal connections) requests at the 80 percent discount level. Schools and libraries that are entitled to 80 percent E-rate discounts serve some of the country’s most financially strapped communities. This reversal resulted from inquiries that the FCC made to USAC after Funds For Learning, a leading E-rate compliance services firm, filed a petition with the FCC strongly objecting to USAC’s recommendation to cut off funding for 2010 at 81 percent.

On January 24, 2011, the USAC Schools and Libraries Committee adopted a resolution, pending FCC approval, that would have set the final Priority 2 discount threshold for Funding Year 2010 at 81 percent. Believing that USAC’s decision not to fund any requests at the 80 percent discount level and below for FY2010 was premature and potentially detrimental to some of the nation’s most impoverished communities, Funds For Learning petitioned the FCC, urging them to reject USAC’s recommendation. Funds For Learning highlighted the fact that the demand at the 80 percent discount for FY2010 Priority Two funds stood at approximately $279.43 million, while $400 million in unused funds were immediately available to fund those requests.

In response, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking public comment on Funds For Learning’s petition. After the comment period closed, there was no public communication on the topic until July 13, when USAC officially notified the FCC, in response to FCC questioning, that it did indeed have the funds available to satisfy FY2010 Priority Two requests at the 80 percent level.

“The E-rate program was designed to help make advanced telecommunications and information services affordable for all of our nation’s schools and libraries, not just a small fraction of them,” said Cathy Cruzan, president of Funds For Learning. “There are many needy schools and libraries that are going to benefit from this announcement.”

According to a Funds For Learning analysis, the decision to fund down to the 80 percent discount band impacts over 1,400 applicants and 870 service providers, and could result in nearly $280 million in new E-rate funding commitments for FY2010.

Peter Kaplan, vendor & regulatory solutions executive, underscored Funds For Learning commitment to all E-rate stakeholders, adding that applicants at the 80 percent level “should not be limited to the role of spectator for Priority Two funding.”

“Funding Year 2010 was a special year that gave USAC the opportunity to distribute E-rate funds more equitably,” said Kaplan. “We believe that the [FCC] is committed to making certain that E-rate funding is available to as many stakeholders as possible. We are glad that our efforts inspired the FCC to look further into USAC’s recommendation and led to a decision that benefitted the greatest number of schools and libraries.”

The FCC must now provide formal approval of the recommendation before USAC can issue funding waves at the 80 percent level. This approval process typically takes two to three weeks.

About Funds For Learning
Funds For Learning, LLC, is an E-rate compliance firm specializing in guiding E-rate applicants and service providers through the complex and ever-changing E-rate regulatory process. With more than 150 combined years of experience in providing professional advice and assistance relating to the E-rate program, Funds For Learning exists to provide high-quality solutions for the needs of E-rate stakeholders. The company was established in 1997 and is headquartered in Edmond, Okla. For more information, visit www.fundsforlearning.com or phone 405-341-4140.

About E-rate
The E-rate program provides discounts on certain services and products that are essential for classrooms and libraries to receive voice, video, and data communications. The amount of the discount depends on the level of poverty and location of the applicant, ranging from 20% to 90% of the cost of eligible services.

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For more information, contact:
–Cathy Cruzan, Funds For Learning, LLC, 405-471-0900 or ccruzan@fundsforlearning.com
–Emily Embury, C. Blohm & Associates, Inc., 608-216-7300, ext. 19 or emily@cblohm.com

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