Today, July 1, 2017, marks the start of 2017 E-rate funding year and the beginning of the next funding cycle, planning process, for FY2018. Before we take a glance at the FY2018 planning process items to keep in mind, let’s reflect on a few things for FY2017 funding cycle:
  • FY2017 Cap Set at $3.99 Billion - Funding Year 2017 saw an inflation-based increase of 1.3%. This represents an increase of $51.2 million which includes $38 million increase for category one services and an increase of $13 million increase for category two.
     
  • USAC Told to Fix Flaws, Focus on Service - FCC Chairman Pai has expressed concern over the current administration of the E-rate program. In a letter to former USAC CEO, Chris Henderson, Pai outlined deficiencies in USAC’s management and declared that the “current state of affairs is unacceptable.” He specifically pointed to the online E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) which has likely contributed to a decline in E-rate applicants.
     
  • Demand Drops to $3 Billion – Despite the inflation-based increase in FY2017 Cap, the amount of E-rate funding requested, and the number of applicants participating in the program, has declined significantly. This drop appears to be fueled by the phase out of voice services and the difficult-to-use EPC system
     
  • Tips for Success After Filing Your Form 471 – A few tips to keep in mind if still waiting for your FY2017 funding commitment decision letter (FCDL). Be on alert for communication from the SLD seeking information to process your application. Keep watch in EPC in News, Tasks, FCC Forms and the Landing Page. Other post-commitment notifications are now issued in EPC, which may include will include information about appeals, service substitutions and changes in service providers.
Looking ahead at the FY2018 funding cycle:
  • Pai Reiterates Support for E-rateE-rate program is here to stay. FCC Chairman Pai has echoed support for E-rate program. In his letter to Senators Markey and Sullivan, Pai stated that he believes that “…E-rate is a key component of the Universal Service Fund and helps millions of students in America benefit from digital learning. Pai recognizes the importance of providing affordable high-speed connections to school and libraries and stated that he is looking forward to “…pursue the goal of promoting digital learning.”
     
  • USAC Releases FY2018 Form 470Start now, don’t wait. USAC released FY2018 Form 470 allowing schools and libraries to start their FY18 E-rate procurement process. Applicants are advised to start their competitive bidding process early to give time to appropriately review bids, select a winning vendor, negotiate contracts, possibly get school board approval, if needed, and time to create, submit and certify the Form 471 before the Form 471 deadline occurs.
     
  • 2017 E-rate Survey Results - Coming this fall! Funds For Learning conducted a nationwide survey, calling on E-rate applicants to contribute their opinions and experiences with the E-rate application process. Signup for the 2017 E-rate Survey results to find out what applicants had to say in this year's survey.