The federal E-rate program continues to provide expanded access to technology, including edtech tools, digital learning resources, and high-speed internet access, to schools, according to an annual report that takes stock of the program’s progress.
The findings come from E-rate compliance services firm Funds For Learning‘s 12th annual E-rate Trends Report. The report is designed to understand how the program can best serve schools and libraries. Stakeholder input is compiled and delivered directly to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to inform program administration.
Key findings from the 2022 report include:
E-rate has provided greater accessibility to technology in schools. Out of all of the applicants who completed the survey, 87 percent of participants agreed that their education sites have faster Internet connections due to the E-rate program. Eighty-six percent of educators also feel that their students and library patrons are more connected to the internet than ever.
E-rate remains a dependable and necessary program for education. The E-rate platform has been proven vital for learning operations by 94 percent of respondents. When it comes to how many participants can depend on funding year over year, 89 percent of applicants reported feeling like they could depend on the E-rate program for funding.
Internet accessibility is an ongoing problem for students and library patrons. About 89% of participants felt that insufficient internet access is a significant issue in the general community. Eighty-two percent of participants also stated that they would take advantage of being able to share internet access off-campus to the general community in order to provide a more technologically connected society.
“This year’s Trends Report shows that the E-rate program is reaching a wide range of schools with broadband internet access,” said John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning, “It is extremely important to learn from applicants about their processes and results with federal funding so that we can continue to provide easy application access for our education leaders.”
This year’s survey received 2,085 applicant responses, corresponding to approximately 10 percent of all E-rate applicants. The report demonstrates consistency in the applicant’s dependence on E-rate to ensure faster connections, connecting more students and lower prices of goods supported by the program.
The E-rate program supports nearly every school and library in America, annually providing billions of dollars of much-needed support for Internet access and computer networking. More than 21,300 applicants and 3,800 vendors currently participate in the program.
This press release originally appeared online.