Shifting Discount Bands
The Funding Year 2015 E-rate discount matrix has been tweaked, with a lower maximum discount for Category Two funding and reduced discounts across the board for voice services – but even though the matrix is unchanged for broadband services, some districts or consortium members may still see a change in their discount rates.
With the new requirement to calculate all funding requests using the district-wide discount rate, there are some scenarios in which an applicant could see their discount rate increase from FY 2014, while others could unfortunately see their discount rates dip down.
This chart shows the estimated percentage of school districts with expected changes in their FY 2015 discount percentage when compared to FY 2014:
Every E-rate applicant should be proactive this filing season to find out what their (potentially) new discount rate will be. With almost half of districts likely to have a different discount rate from FY 2014, applicants will be well served to estimate their FY 2015 discount rates now in order to complete any required budgetary adjustments and make informed vendor and service selections. Waiting until after the bidding process could be a costly mistake if a district’s discount rate decreases.
In the same way, looking at FY 2014 student populations and library square footage can give applicants a good estimate of their FY 2015 Category Two budget amount. Having a solid estimate of how much money will be available for network equipment and services is a great start to the planning and forecasting that go into an equipment procurement process.
Take a moment to register for our E-rate community with edWeb, and join us monthly for free online E-rate applicant training seminars. Our latest training, which is available to watch online for free, covered steps to prepare an application to be ready for review of student NSLP eligibility and different discount rate scenarios.