The flow of E-rate funding disbursements and the pace of funding commitments are both showing signs of improvement.
Record Payment Levels
The E-rate program exists to provide financial support to schools and libraries for communication services and networks. Therefore, one of the most important measures of the program’s impact is the amount of funds that are paid out. In this past quarter ending June 30, there were $743 million disbursed by USAC. This is a new quarterly record, on par with the 2nd quarter payments of 2016, and nearly $100 million more than the next record holder in the 3rd quarter of 2014. The chart below illustrates the quarterly disbursements for the past five years. The top five quarters are highlighted.
FY2017 Commitments Tracking with FY2015
E-rate payments cannot begin until USAC issues a funding commitment decision letter (“FCDL”) to an applicant. Ideally, all FCDLs would be issued prior to the July 1 start of the funding year. This would allow services to start on time and for applicants to receive their E-rate discounts directly via their vendor invoice rather than having to seek reimbursement later.
As previously reported, the review of FY2017 applications has improved significantly when compared to FY2016. USAC began issuing decisions earlier and much more money already has been committed than last year. The following graph compares the timing and committed amounts of the first eight funding waves for FY2014, FY2015, FY2016 and FY2017.
It appears that FY2017 is following a pattern similar to FY2015, which is a big improvement over FY2016.