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Disbursements Continue to Flow Despite E-rate Commitment Delays

More than $260 million worth of previously approved E-rate funding commitments have been disbursed since August 4, 2004, the day after the last wave of approved funding commitments was issued by the Schools and Libraries Division, according to an analysis of SLD disbursement data by Funds For Learning.

Some reports on the current status of the E-rate program may have implied that no funding is currently being disbursed. However, the Universal Service Administrative Company has said it is continuing to process Service Provider Invoices and Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) forms on funding commitments that had been approved before the SLD held up further approvals.

The bulk of the disbursements since early August (about $211 million) were associated with commitments for the 2003 funding year. Another $7.7 million were associated with commitments for the 2004 funding year, and $22 million and $24 million were associated with the 2002 and 2001 funding years, respectively. During that time, the SLD also disbursed smaller amounts associated with every E-rate funding year since the program began in 1998.

October 28, 2004 is the deadline for applicants and service providers to submit payment paperwork associated with funding commitments for non-recurring services for the 2003 funding year, assuming that the applicant had already received an approved funding commitment. That deadline could be expected to increase the amount that the SLD would be asked to disburse over the next few weeks.

About $439 million in funding requests for 2003 are still pending, although some of that amount likely will fall below the 70 percent threshold for approved internal connections that year. So far, the SLD had approved about $742 million in funding requests for the 2004 funding year, of which about $355 million was for telecommunications services, $100 million for Internet access and $287 million for internal connections.

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