5 strategies to tackle the homework gap

Despite a brighter spotlight on digital equity, gaps still remain, including the troubling and persistent homework gap–but a newly-relaunched digital equity toolkit aims to highlight the important work districts across the nation are taking to address equity differences.

The 2014 Erate modernization helped a majority of schools meet the FCC’s short-term connectivity goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students, according to CoSN’s relaunched Digital Equity Initiative toolkit. But because classroom use of technology and digital resources is growing, a gap has continued to grow between students who have internet access at home and those who do not.

Related content: Tips for closing the homework gap…Read More

This E-rate trick can help schools combat net neutrality repeal

With concerns about school internet access buzzing in the wake of the FCC’s vote to repeal net neutrality, anxiety over school internet access might transfer to the federal E-rate program–but there’s no need to worry, according to E-rate experts.

When the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality, education stakeholders worried the move would be a step backwards for digital equity inside classrooms. Some worried that even in classrooms with digital equity, net neutrality’s repeal would leave students in low-income neighborhoods at a disadvantage and widen the homework gap.

While net neutrality’s impact on the marketplace and internet access has yet to be determined, there are things schools can do to protect themselves if they’re worried about throttling or blocking–concerns brought up during the net neutrality debate, said John Harrington, CEO of E-rate consulting firm Funds For Learning.…Read More

4 questions to ask about E-rate funding

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.…Read More

Form 471 filing window dates announced

USAC’s Schools and Libraries Division has announced important Funding Year (FY) 2018 dates and deadlines.

The FY 2018 FCC Form 471 application filing window opens Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, at 12:00 noon EST and closes on Thursday, March 22, 2018, at 11:59 PM EDT. This filing window is more in keeping with those used in prior funding years.

Representatives at USAC’s Client Service Bureau are available to help applicants at 888-203-8100. Applicants also can open a customer service case in the E-rate Productivity Center to receive assistance.…Read More

Districts say E-rate is critical to their learning goals

A large majority of E-rate applicants (87 percent) said the federally funded program is vital to their internet connectivity goals, according to an annual survey that tracks program applicants’ perspectives on the program.

In the midst of leadership changes in the White House and the FCC, as well as education budget cuts, ed-tech stakeholders have raised questions regarding the promise of the E-rate program to deliver safe and proper broadband connections to students in the U.S.

According to initial feedback from Funds For Learning’s annual E-rate applicant survey, E-rate recipients continue to rely on E-rate funding to provide connectivity for schools and libraries across the nation.…Read More

E-Rate Survival FAQs

  • What (and who) is E-rate?

    E-rate is a US Federal Program for funding telecom and technology in K-12 schools and Libraries. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under direction by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Key components of the program include:

    • Universal Service Administrative Company(USAC)
      • An independent, not-for-profit corporation that operates as the administrator of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF). The USF helps provide communities across the country with affordable telecommunications services.
    • Schools and Libraries Division (SLD)
      • A division of USAC responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the E-rate Program
    • Universal Service Fund(USF)
      • Currently all telecommunications companies that provide service between states, including long distance companies, local telephone companies, wireless telephone companies, paging companies, and payphone providers, are required to contribute to the federal Universal Service Fund. Carriers providing international services also must contribute to the Universal Service Fund.
  • Where do I go to apply for E-rate?

    Riverbed Xirrus provides a step-by-step guide to the E-rate funding process at http://erate.xirrus.com under the Start Here menu. The application process is described by USAC on their web site starting here: http://www.usac.org/sl/applicants/step01/default.aspx

  • Is my district or facility eligible for E-rate?

    Typically, most K-12 educational facilities, consortia and libraries are eligible, but there are some requirements. A facility’s or district’s eligibility can be determined starting here: http://www.usac.org/sl/applicants/beforeyoubegin/default.aspx…Read More

Most districts say E-rate is critical for internet access

A large majority of E-rate applicants (87 percent) said the federally funded program is vital to their internet connectivity goals, according to an annual survey that tracks program applicants’ perspectives on the program.

In the midst of leadership changes in the White House and the FCC, as well as education budget cuts, ed-tech stakeholders have raised questions regarding the promise of the E-rate program to deliver safe and proper broadband connections to students in the U.S.

According to initial feedback from Funds For Learning’s annual E-rate applicant survey, E-rate recipients continue to rely on E-rate funding to provide connectivity for schools and libraries across the nation.…Read More

Innovative district expands access like never before using E-rate

Thanks to a major funding refresh, one district found that it’s now possible to support its one-to-one initiative without scaling back access for other services or devices. Could your district do the same?

The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) historic E-rate modernization in 2014 paved the way for districts to expand their high-speed broadband and wi-fi and increase digital learning opportunities for students.

Before the modernization, Category 2 services were called Priority 2 services and were funded only after all requests for Priority 1 services (telecommunications services and internet access) were funded–but that meant most schools had no leftover E-rate funding for wi-fi equipment and other internal connections.…Read More