The Schools and Libraries Division reported to the Federal Communications Commission Feb. 6 that its preliminary estimate of the demand for E-rate support in the program's fourth funding year is $5.529 billion, a 17 percent increase over the demand in Year 3.
The SLD said that that number had not been adjusted for likely changes relating to program compliance. It also said it was possible that there were some duplicate filings. In addition, it said it is continuing to receive manually filed applications that were postmarked on or before Jan. 18, the deadline for the Year 4 filing window.
The FCC has not yet set the funding cap for the fourth funding year, which starts July 1. In the past two years, the cap was set at the maximum currently permissible, or $2.25 billion.
The SLD said the numbers were based on 31,499 Forms 471 that were filed online and 5,540 of the 6,080 paper application forms that it had received as of Feb. 5. The SLD said the preliminary total of 37,595 applications represented an increase of 2 percent over the number of applications filed last year.
A spokesman said the SLD could not yet provide a breakdown on the requests by service category or discount band. Under the E-rate program's rules, requests for telecommunications services and Internet access receive first priority and then requests for internal connections support are filled on the basis of need, as long as funds remain.
In the third funding year, the SLD initially estimated demand at $4.721 billion before it reviewed applications for program compliance and duplication. As of Dec. 31, 2000, the agency had made $2.084 billion worth of funding commitments.