A Schools and Libraries Division spokesman confirmed February 2 that the Schools and Libraries Division intends to hold off approving any more internal connections requests for the 2003 funding year until after March 1 to give applicants an automatic extension of the installation deadline for non-recurring projects. Under Federal Communications Commission rules, applicants that do not receive their 2003 funding commitment letter for non-recurring projects until after March 1, 2004, will be given an additional year–until September 30, 2005–to finish their projects. The wave of funding commitments that the SLD is releasing this week included no new commitments in the internal connections category. As of February 2, the SLD has approved a total of $1.696 billion worth of commitments for the 2003 funding year, with $1.869 billion worth of requests still pending, according to data compiled by Funds For Learning.
The SLD has approved $782 million worth of internal connections requests, with $1.382 billion still pending. It has approved $720 million worth of telecommunications services requests, with $345 million still pending and approved $194 million worth of requests for Internet access, with $141 million still pending. The SLD is currently approving eligible internal connections requests for applicants with a discount rate of 85 percent or higher. It is still considering requests from applicants at 70 percent or above.
The FCC previously had authorized the SLD to commit up to $2.7 billion this year in recognition that applicants historically have not used all of the dollars that had been set aside for them. In addition, the FCC recently authorized the SLD to use up to $420 million in undisbursed commitments from previous funding years for the 2003 funding year.
The availability of funding, however, could be impacted by the size of the funding commitments sought by a small group of applicants that were permitted to refile their applications for 2002. These requests will be capped at the amount of the applicants' original requests for non-recurring services. Applicants that received their funding commitments before March 1 can petition to get their installation deadline extended. The SLD is authorized to approve these extensions in certain circumstances, but in other cases, applicants must petition the FCC. Details on these rules are available at http://www.sl.universalservice.org/reference/ServiceDeliveryDeadlines.asp.