eRate applicants face important changes with this year’s program

eRate progress

Blackwell said USAC has seen a record number of eRate training attendees this year.

“We kind of thought at the start that we might not have many people because of budgets,” he said. But “in today’s economic climate, everybody wants the latest information and knowledge of nuances that could cause them not to get funding.”

In recent years, USAC has been much more proactive in ensuring that eRate applicants have the necessary information to complete eRate forms correctly and on time. Those efforts have paid off, Blackwell said, noting that in 2005, 84 percent of applicants received funding, and in 2010, 92 percent of applicants received funding.

USAC’s Helping Applicants To Succeed (HATS) program has been successful as well, Blackwell said. A few years ago, 625 applicants missed a filing deadline. After USAC brought the HATS program to those applicants, reminding them a few times of the impending deadlines, only 25 applicants missed the deadline.

The training sessions’ “Road to Success” presentation helps applicants understand what they should do to stay on top of their eRate applications and the filing process in general.

“We’re trying to do the best that we can to help people remember what to do, when, and how to do it,” Blackwell said. “It’s easier for us to review a good application than one that has a lot of flaws.”

eRate applicants who are unable to attend national training sessions can access USAC’s presentation materials here.

At its board meeting in late October, USAC’s Schools and Libraries Division approved a resolution stating that the filing window for funding year 2012 would open no earlier than Jan. 5 and would remain open for about 70 days. That was the latest information available as of press time.

For more eRate guidance, see also:

How to make sense of the new eRate gift rules

Five tips for eRate success

Laura Ascione

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