Applicants' demand for E-rate funding for the 2005 funding year appears to generally be tracking demand for the 2004 funding year, according to a Funds For Learning analysis.

The Schools and Libraries Division posts application information after an application has been entered into its data base and matched up with the pertinent application certifications. In some cases, this will mean matching a posted online application with a paper certification form that will need to be data entered into the SLD's systems.

As of March 25, 2005, the SLD had recorded 98,956 funding requests totaling $2.449 billion for the 2005 funding year. Of that amount, roughly $872 million was for telecommunications services, $275 million for Internet access, $1.14 billion for internal connections and $162 million for the new basic maintenance category.

Based on last year's experience, the size of the average funding request should be expected to grow as more applications are processed. In addition, the proportion of requests for internal connections and basic maintenance should also grow because those applications tend to be more complicated and may tend to be filed closer to the filing deadline.

By March 15, 2005, the SLD had processed 90,999 funding requests totaling $2.276 billion for 2005, compared with 93,149 requests for $2.48 billion that had been processed during the same time period following the close of the application filing window for the 2004 funding year. It was unclear whether the difference reflected a smaller volume of requests this year or a slower processing pace by the SLD.

When the SLD finishes its data-entry work, it will provide the Federal Communications Commission with a formal estimate of demand, including what proportion of the requests come from different bands of the discount matrix.