The Schools and Libraries Division reported April 3 that schools and libraries have requested $4.718 billion worth of E-rate discounts for the 2003 funding year. The SLD makes a demand projection to the Federal Communications Commission before the FCC formally decides what the annual funding cap will be.
The SLD noted that the overall demand level had declined by about $1 billion from the amount requested in applications for the 2002 funding year. Applicants requested $1.745 billion worth of discounts for telecommunications services in 2003 (compared with $1.4 billion in 2002), $438.5 million worth of discounts for Internet access (compared with $411 million in 2002) and $2.97 billion worth of discounts for internal connections, compared with $3.9 billion in 2002. About $2.1 billion worth of discounts for internal connections were requested for 2003 from applicants qualifying at the 90 percent discount rate.
In the 2002 funding year, the SLD rejected a substantial volume of funding requests. As of the last funding wave, about $1.8 billion had been committed for 2002, including $802 million worth of discounts for telecommunications services, $212 million worth of discounts for Internet access and $861 million worth of discounts for internal connections. This year the SLD is authorized to commit up to a total of $2.7 billion. Although the SLD had initially thought it might be forced to pro-rate funding requests for internal connections among applicants at the 90 percent discount rate, it has actually been able to support all eligible internal connections requests from applicants with discount rates as low as 81 percent, and is still considering requests from applicants at 80 percent.
The demand projection represents the value of all applications received or postmarked by February 6, 2003, the close of the filing window. The SLD noted that the demand projection will be reduced further as the SLD completes its review of applications and as it weeds out duplicate applications. The SLD reported that 95.2 percent of applicants filed their Form 471 applications online this year, compared with 85.8 percent in 2002.