The Schools and Libraries Division began distributing funding commitments for the second E-rate funding year on July 12, sending out more than 6,000 letters totaling more than $90 million in commitments.
The distribution included $74 million for telecommunications services and Internet access and $16 million for internal connections support for applicants with discount rates of 80 percent or higher. In making the distribution, the SLD was able to signal that it could support internal requests for applicants at the 80 percent level much earlier than it had been able to in the first funding year. The ultimate cutoff point for internal connections support should drop lower as it continues to process applications.
The SLD will follow a weekly distribution schedule until all the applications are processed. If necessary, the SLD will provide a split decision on an application, deferring a decision on internal connections requests until it knows what level of internal connections requests it will be able to support.
The SLD distributed the first wave a week and a half after the start of the 1999-2000 funding year, but the distribution was larger than the comparable wave for the first funding year. The SLD is not expected to finish distributing funding commitments before the end of the summer. It has not yet detailed how applicants should seek reimbursement if they purchase services before they receive a funding commitment.
The SLD is also in the process of distributing commitments totaling $16.7 million for about 400 application decisions that were successfully appealed to the SLD. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed giving these applicants six additional months to complete their installations, but that policy has not been formally approved yet.
The first wave of funding commitments represented more than 20 percent of applicants and about 4 percent of the $2.25 billion that the SLD has available to distribute. Library applicants, who represent about 7 percent of the pool of applications, received 20 percent of the Wave One funding commitments, and 7 percent of the committed funds.
"This is a significant first step for Year Two of the E-rate," said SLD President Kate Moore. "Commitments will flow weekly from this point, allowing libraries and schools to move forward with their plans to bring the benefits of modern technology to their user patrons and students."