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SLD To Extend Filing Window to April 6

The Schools and Libraries Division is expected to announce on Wednesday that the filing window for the 1999-2000 funding year will be extended until April 6, giving E-rate applicants approximately 26 more days in which to complete their applications this year. Under that schedule, Form 470s would not have to be posted until March 8 to provide enough time to complete the process before the new deadline.

The decision to extend the window was reportedly made by the SLD board because of continued delays in processing funding commitment letters for the first, 1998 funding year of the program. Earlier this week, the SLD announced that it would take another two to four waves of commitment letters to respond to all the applications from the first year. Only about 40 percent of the available funding has been committed so far.

Posted applications for the 1999-2000 funding year have also lagged behind last year's pace as applicants waited to find out what they would get for 1998 before submitting new applications.

The delay may have an impact on the ability of the SLD to process all of next year's funding commitments by July 1, the start of the new funding year. The SLD had hoped to avoid having to reimburse applicants for purchases they had already made, the way it was forced to do for the 1998 funding year.

Still under consideration is a decision to extend the June 30, 1999 deadline by which internal connections funded in 1998 would have to be installed. The Federal Communications Commission has been urged to extend this deadline so that schools and libraries would have more time this year to complete this work.

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