6 Steps to Assuring Your Institution’s e-Learning Future
The demand for high-speed, reliable network access is unending as the number of people working from home, participating in digital learning, receiving telehealth services, and other demands increases tremendously. While the pandemic showed the importance of always having access, regardless of where you may be, the rise in the need for reliable network access was already reaching a fever pitch. Eventually, the world would have realized the intense and unrelenting need to have network access anywhere.
Despite the need, we all know exists, exploring governmental coronavirus assistance can be difficult. This process is particularly daunting when determining where and how to utilize government funds for information technology services and systems.
Because of this unprecedented public health problem, the US government has responded by developing stimulus measures to improve network connections for schools, medical institutions, and other entities that would greatly need connectivity.
Thus, in addition to E-Rate, Stimulus Funds for K-12 and Higher Education were born.
The Lastest Stimulus Funds: CRRSA and ARPA
In 2020, lawmakers enacted a $2 trillion stimulus package known as the CARES Act to mitigate the effects of an economic slowdown brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic. The CARES Act started a series of funding that has continued into 2022 with the Coronavirus Respons and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, or CRRSAA, and the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds. While both of these acts provide funding for a wide variety of purposes, both include specific funding for K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
The CRRSAA authorized $81.88 billion in funding to support higher education and the ARPA includes $130 billion in funding for K-12 schools with an additional $40 billion for colleges and universities. Between both of these acts, the government authorized a total of nearly $252 billion of funding for K-12 and higher education.
Funding for Public Schools
The law states that a school district may be eligible for government school financing assistance to update and enhance greater internet connectivity to students and facilitate online classes. Moreover, financing for telecommunications infrastructure investments that provide access to remote and rural areas may be available to local municipalities through the federal government. Ultimately, it is all part of a larger initiative to give the people speedy and stable internet connectivity. These fundings come through the E-Rate program funded through the Federal Communications Commission.
After all, ensuring that students have the access they need to learn in the most efficient way possible helps open the doors for our future. The more younger generations learn now, the easier it will be for them to build upon everything we know to create better technology and internet connectivity in the future.
Updates to the E-Rate Program for Digital Learning
The Federal Communications Commission requested input on a proposed FY2022 Qualified Services List and created a special session for the Funding Year 2022 called DA 21-1062.
The updated services list meant schools can continue to use the E-Rate program for discounts on various telecommunication and internet needs. This funding will continue to be available for up to three years.
With the update to the Qualified Services List, there are a few new rules to take note of:
- Category 2 Finances are adjusted, starting in 2021.
- Category 2 Budgets get reset every five years from now on.
- You will allocate funds based on school districts or library systems.
- The funding threshold gets raised to $25,000.
- The per-student funding allotment for schools will be $171.
How Can You Prepare to Fully Leverage the E-Rate Program in the Next Academic Season?
To fully leverage the E-Rate program during the next Academic season, get prepared with these six simple steps for July 1:
1. Decide on Technology Investments
Calculate your potential E-rate funding; you will use it to set the E-Rate budget and the school’s participation. Determine the fixed and mobile investments required during the year based on the established budget.
2. Begin the E-Rate Application Process
A Form 470 must be completed and offered for E-Rate financing. Visitors can download the application forms and instructions from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) homepage. Once visitors reach Section 10, they can identify the solutions they intend to apply from Step 1 and attach the Request for Proposal (RFP).
3. Select a Bidder from the List
Form 471 must be completed and submitted. Project bids should be submitted within 28 days following the filing of Form 470. After that, choose a vendor, negotiate a contract, and submit Form 471 to the IRS. To file appropriately, request a pre-populated document that defines the work’s boundaries and includes all pertinent information. The Funding Request Number (FRN) tool can be used to see one’s progress in the funding cycle.
4. Check for Compliance with the Program Integrity Audit (PIA)
During this period, applicants will be asked to answer questions. A Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) detailing the funding status and amount awarded will be sent to each applicant. Ensure that the 471 status gets displayed in column B of the FRN tool. An applicant is still in the PIA review process if the message says, ‘Assigned to Internal Review.’
5. Start Working on the Project
Form 486 must be completed, and the funds received before an account is processed. After certification, applicants are informed that they can begin working on their projects. You can submit Form 486 electronically.
6. The E-Rate Pays Up
Finally, decide how you want to handle billing for the project. Fill out Form 472 or Form 474. Form 472, or the Billed Entity Application Reimbursement Form, allows any project to begin early. However, the institution is liable for paying the vendor and will be repaid by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Meanwhile, Form 474, or the Service Provider Pay, allows applicants to delay the project’s commencement. Still, the vendor will charge the USAC on the applicant’s behalf, so they will not be responsible for the expenditures upfront.
Seeking government coronavirus assistance can indeed be a difficult task. That is why step-by-step consulting on the matter is available to help applicants understand their prospects, visualize the possibilities, qualify for and get public money, and effectively execute their projects according to their needs.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss how we can help you access E-Rate and stimulus funding for your school.