Today’s K-12 schools are facing a complex web of needs, technologies, and regulations. Digital transformation has led to an expectation by students and faculty of constant connectivity to their school’s web assets. In response, schools have been incorporating programs that allow for more devices and a more web-focused curriculum. These services are critical, but they come at a great cost. Paying for internet access and securing the network do not come cheap.

The E-rate program was developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its subsidiary, the Universal Services Administrative Committee (USAC), to provide federal funding to K-12 schools and public libraries across the country. E-rate gives schools access to necessary technology they otherwise may not be able to afford. In fact, 87 percent of E-rate applicants report that this funding is vital to meeting their connectivity goals.

There are two categories of funding in the E-rate program. Category one funding provides data transmission and internet access. Category two funding supports the critical infrastructure required for security, speed, and compliance, offering schools $150 per student.

(Next page: 4 E-rate questions for district coordinators and IT teams)

About the Author:

Susan Biddle is the senior director of government, education and healthcare industry solutions at Fortinet. She is a high technology and vertical marketing executive with over 15 years’ experience driving new solutions from concept to market, managing diverse cross-functional teams and developing highly effective marketing programs. Biddle has expertise in strategic planning, market segmentation and research methodologies. She has a strong background in product and solutions marketing, demand generation and key IT infrastructure solution areas for the health and life sciences industry, such as translational research, digital health and connected care.