A major study of the first two years of the E-rate program has found that while many schools and libraries were able to take advantage of the program, certain kinds of applicants had more success than others.
The study was conducted for the U.S. Department of Education's Planning and Evaluation Service by researchers from The Urban Institute. The team had access to data from the Schools and Libraries Division's data base to try to determine how different kinds of applicants fared under the program during its first two years. Among the study's findings:
- Public schools were able to take the most advantage of the program, capturing 84 percent of the total funding commitments that were made. The study found that three-fourths of public schools had applied for E-rate funding, compared to about half of public libraries and 15 percent of private schools.
- Application rates were lower for the most impoverished public school districts, as well as smaller school districts and libraries. The report suggested that "larger organizations may have more of the human, technical and fiscal capacity needed to apply for, and make effective use of, the E-rate program."
- States vary greatly in their use of the E-rate program, reflecting differences in poverty, rural location and prior investments in technology infrastructure. The proportion of schools in a state that applied for funding during the program's second year ranged from a low of 41 percent in Montana to high numbers in Arkansas (96 percent), Rhode Island (95 percent), Georgia (93 percent), and 99 percent in Hawaii, with its single school district statewide.