With the release of FY2015 funding wave #18 this week, USAC has committed nearly $2 billion in FY2015 funding, exceeding its existing record pace set in FY2014. USAC has committed an average of $110.6 million each week since it began issuing FY2015 funding commitments last May. Previously, USAC had issued funding commitments at a rate of $95.2 million/week and $42.6 million/week in FY2014 and FY2013, respectively.
This new record rate of funding commitments is particularly noteworthy for the following reasons:
- The FCC requires significantly more data from applicants than in previous years. Applicants had to submit more than four times as much information in FY2015 as they did before, all of which requires review by USAC staff.
- The more complicated FCC forms resulted in a three-week extension of the application filing window last spring. (In our recent survey, applicants rated the FCC’s new E-rate process as significantly longer and more complex.)
- For the first time since 2012, E-rate applicants had the opportunity to receive Category 2 (formerly Priority 2) discounts on internal connections-related goods and services. These applications tend to be more time-consuming, both for applicants to prepare and for USAC to review.
Given the increased complexity of the program, the delay in the filing window, and the review of detailed internal connections funding requests, it is impressive that USAC has been able to maintain its record pace of funding commitments.
September 1 Deadline
As part of its reform of the E-rate program, the FCC set a September 1 goal for USAC to process workable E-rate applications. Of the original $3.9 billion in FY2015 funding requests, over $2 billion have been processed, leaving about $1.8 billion in applications still pending as of September 24. At its current pace and taking into account the average rejection rate of funding requests, it’s estimated that the bulk of the FY2015 funding requests will be committed by the end of December 2015.
Although the September 1 goal was not met, it certainly has achieved its purpose: getting funding commitments out the door and into the hands of schools and libraries faster. USAC should be recognized for the work it has done releasing a record amount of funding in record time.