How applicants would change the eRate, if they could

Fast facts

• Thirty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they would prioritize internet access and cloud services over P2 purchases or cellular services.

• If forced to choose only one funding category, 42 percent said they would choose internet access.

It is clear from the survey results that applicants place a high value on funding availability for internet access services, with about 40 percent of respondents indicating that they would prioritize internet access over other types of services. The responses to these questions were very similar between applicants who have received P2 funding within the past few years and those who have not.

While internet access services are clearly a priority for all applicants, there was one significant variation. The variation arose between applicants who have only one site and those who have multiple school locations. Single-site applicants ranked funding for local telephone service as significantly more important than multi-site applicants. Similarly, single-site applicants ranked Internal Connections projects as less important than multi-site applicants. This disparity likely reflects the different circumstances present in a school district versus a single school. It would seem to suggest that single-site schools are worried about more basic connectivity requirements proportionately less than their multi-site school colleagues.

Survey respondents also were encouraged to provide comments as a part of their response. Many of the comments expressed a deep gratitude for the eRate, and overall, they indicated a desire for a simplified, more predictable program that can assist them in providing increasing levels of student internet connectivity. In the face of increasing demand, changes to the program’s structure and operation seem inevitable to many eRate experts. The responses to the survey reveal important themes in schools’ needs and plans for the next generation, which will be critical for ensuring success for future generations of eRate applicants.

Brian Stephens is a senior technology and regulatory analyst for the eRate consulting firm Funds For Learning.

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