Preparing for E-Rate

By Brian Stephens

The close of another E-rate filing window. You almost can hear the collective sigh of relief from school district E-rate personnel, service provider representatives, and E-rate consultants as we all switch our music players from Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” to Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” and prepare to take a well-deserved E-rate break.

But before we all escape to the No E-rate Resort for a couple of months, it is important to remember that E-rate is a journey, not a race. While a major deadline has been met, much work is still to be done. A little preparation now -- done correctly -- can lead to a significant reduction in E-rate stress down the road.

E-rate, supported by Universal Service fees paid by telecommunications companies, provides discounts to U.S. schools and libraries for telecommunications, Internet access, and some hardware infrastructure. In our 15-year history, Funds For Learning has carefully studied the characteristics of a successful E-rate applicant. A central theme that we have observed among those most successful: Be prepared. Successful applicants are organized. They anticipate questions and understand the rules. They make sure that they know exactly how and why they are compliant. They plan ahead.

So instead of letting E-rate fall by the wayside until the next big deadline, we offer a few simple suggestions for completing the work for this funding year, as well as for preparing for the next funding year and beyond.

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