On May 26, 2017, USAC announced the first FY 2017 funding wave. It included $48.6 million in funding commitments for 4,920 applicants, or about 1 out of every 5 applicants. News of the first wave comes 36 days prior to the July 1 start of the funding year. This is an improvement over the first funding wave of FY2016. That wave included $17.7 million for 2,138 applicants and was issued 15 days prior to the start of the funding year.
The date of a funding commitment decision letter is very important and there are many advantages for schools and libraries who receive their funding commitment decisions quickly:
  • The earlier that a funding commitment decision letter is issued, the more likely an applicant is to utilize their E-rate discounts.
  • Having a funding commitment decision prior to the start of services being delivered allows applicants to receive their discounts directly from their vendor rather than seeking reimbursement after the fact.
  • Some projects can only be completed when a school is not in session.
  • Funding delays increase the number of service substitutions that are required, thereby furthering delaying the receipt of funding.
  • These are just a few examples of why funding decision dates matter.
A larger funding wave that impacts more applicants and is delivered earlier before the start of the funding year is an improvement. By this standard, FY2017 is off to a better start than FY2016 (which still has $357.6 million in pending applications.)
The chart below illustrates the amount of funding and the relative timing of the first funding wave for funding years 1999 to 2017.