The number of schools submitting E-rate funding applications has dropped significantly from prior years. A total of 19,953 schools and school districts have submitted E-rate applications for Funding Year 2016. This represents a drop of nearly 2,700 applicants from the program’s peak participation in FY2014.

The final count could increase if there are additional schools who submit “late-filed” Form 471s or if groups of schools submit their requests via consortia applications.

Seeking Third-Party Expertise

A growing number of schools are turning to outside consultants to help them prepare their E-rate applications. In the 2016 filing window, a record 65% of school applicants used a third-party to help them complete their forms. This is a 7% increase over last year, and the biggest jump in the use of consultants in the program’s history.