As of the end of September, USAC has processed $1.54 billion in E-rate disbursement requests in calendar year 2020. This is a similar pace as seen in calendar years 2018 and 2019. Disbursements occur as payment paperwork is processed for the goods and services received by schools and libraries. Although an applicant may have a funding commitment from USAC, actual E-rate discounts are not realized until services have been delivered and payment paperwork filed and reviewed by USAC.
There were concerns that the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic might interfere with USAC’s ability to process payments; and these slower payments could negatively impact the cash flow for school and library systems. However, this has not proven to be the case. In fact, compared to last calendar year, the payments authorized for disbursements in 2020 are up $84 million, 6% higher than 2019. Fortunately, of all the challenges facing schools and libraries this year, the on-going flow of E-rate discounts is not one of them.