2015 E-rate Changes
In part 4 of our transcript series reviewing the Cisco Meraki webinar on gearing up for the 2015 E-Rate funding year, we’ll now look at the 2015 changes to E-Rate funding for schools.
Now, let’s take a look at some other E-rate changes. There are a few exciting ones that are happening here. One of those is this idea of a minimum Category 2 discount. As of this year, regardless of size of school or library, all schools and libraries are going to be eligible for a minimum of $9,200 in funding to be spent over that five-year period. So, this helps for the smaller schools who were not eligible for E-rate funding in the past. I know that as of last year, the FCC actually voted to deny all Priority 2 applications, which is why this modernization order is so important this year. This modernization order is not only bringing over a billion dollars worth of funding to Category 2 services but it’s also providing a minimum amount eligible for every single school or library.
Now, in terms of other changes that are happening to Category 2 discounts. In years past, the discount rate has been determined on a school-by-school level, even within districts. As of this year, all schools and libraries within a district are going to be receiving the same discount rate. So, if one school within a district receives an 80% discount rate, for example, all schools in that district will receive the 80% discount rate. So, as I mentioned, it’s district-wide. It’s no longer school-by-school or building-by-building.
In terms of how this Category 2 discount rate is actually calculated, the contribution rate which is a minimum of 15%, is going to be calculated based on the percentage of students that are eligible for the National School Lunch Program. Another thing to keep in mind is that rural areas can receive an additional 5 to 10% compared to urban areas. Again, this is a way that the FCC is going to be ensuring that funds are being spent intelligently, and are being dispersed in a way that makes sense for all the schools and libraries.
A couple other changes here are document retention and audits. So, the document retention period has increased from five years to ten years. And in terms of audits and reviews, school and libraries are going to need to permit auditors on premises to review and ensure compliance, and also perform integrity insurances; making sure that the money that they received for E-rate funding is actually being spent on eligible E-rate services and products.
If you missed the previous parts of the Cisco Meraki Gearing Up for E-Rate 2015 webinar transcript, you can read the sections on E-Flow and BYOD for schools, category 1 and 2 funding, and how to purchase equipment for your school with E-Rate funds by clicking on the links.
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