The application deadline for the 17th E-rate funding year closed this past week, with applicants from across the country submitting requests for about 5 billion dollars (+/-). Despite the fact that this is Funds For Learning’s 17th filing window, the rush to get all of the forms and information together never gets boring. But I must admit that part of me is having trouble staying in the moment, savoring the FY2014 applications. Although the filing window just closed, I am already looking forward to the next one. Let me explain.
A lot happens when someone turns 18 years old. They are considered an adult. They can vote, buy a house, or get married. They are eligible for jury duty and are also responsible for paying their taxes. At 18, they get to sign contracts and also are held to higher standards under the law. Turning 18 is an important milestone for every individual.
Similarly, Year 18 (FY2015) of the E-rate promises to be a watershed moment in the program’s successful history. Long hoped-for reform will finally be here. There will be changes and updates, revisions, and, yes, probably even a few surprises. No one knows with certainty or precision the exact shape of the modernized E-rate program. But change is coming… It would have been better had it arrived sooner, but, in this case, late is better than never.
A benefit of the current timeline is that the FCC is still receiving formal comments and ideas for reform. There is still time to impact the shape of the E-rate program for years to come. The FCC has requested that applicants and other stakeholders submit their thoughts by April 7. If you haven’t already done so, read the FCC’s Public Notice. Also, please take time to understand the Funds For Learning proposal and give us your feedback. Even though the filing window for FY2014 has just closed, it is important that we all invest a little time now in considering the shape of the future. It will impact
NOTE: Technically, there have been 18 filing windows if you include the Year 2 mini-window from March 2000.