ARLINGTON, VA—Funds For Learning, a nationally recognized consulting firm specializing in the E-rate program, has launched ESPSM, a package of information and consulting services designed to help guide applicants through the program's many rules, deadlines and requirements.
ESPSM, which stands for E-rate Security Package, provides subscribers with program updates in print, fax and electronic form, e-mail responses to questions and access to group conference calls at key stages in the E-rate process. In addition, subscribers will receive a copy of E-rate Advisor 2001 , Funds For Learning's innovative software solution that guides schools and libraries through their application preparation, much the way tax-preparation software helps a taxpayer prepare his income taxes.
ESPSM, is available for a year's subscription at $75 a month. A premium package, available for $150 a month, includes up to an hour a month of individual consulting service. Subscriptions will run a year from signup, to provide support services throughout the whole E-rate program cycle.
'Our experience tells us that many E-rate applicants still need help in keeping their applications on track," said Orin Heend, president of Funds For Learning. 'When hundreds of millions of dollars of approved E-rate funding goes unclaimed, when the Federal Communications Commission automatically throws out close to half of the E-rate appeals it receives because they weren't filed on time—that tells us that schools and libraries still need a trusted source to which they can turn for help."
In early July, Heend noted, the FCC reminded applicants in an appeals decision that 'In light of the thousands of applications that [the Schools and Libraries Division] reviews and processes each funding year, it is administratively necessary to place on the applicant the responsibility of understanding all relevant program and rules and procedures."
'Some applicants get excellent support from their states and trade associations," Heend added, 'but that help isn't available to everyone. Our goal is to provide a low-cost source of reliable advice and support for everyone who needs it."
Applicants will still be responsible for completing their application forms, Heend explained, 'but ESP will give them a place they can turn for help with their questions and concerns."
In addition to receiving a copy of FFL's E-rate Advisor 2001 software, ESPSM subscribers will receive subscriptions to FFL's quarterly E-rate Insider newsletter and more frequent news updates by fax or email. In addition, subscribers will be able to participate in conference calls scheduled at key points in the application season—planning, filing the Form 470 application, filing the Form 471 application, responding to SLD questions and following through to get funding.