Over $40 million in federal E-rate funding is available for New Jersey schools. The deadline to submit E-rate funding requests is Mar. 27, 2019.  However, due to the mandatory 28-day competitive bidding period required by E-rate program rules, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Form 470 must be filed no later than Feb. 27, 2019.

Category Two Funding for Digital Learning  In July 2014, the FCC released the Second E-rate Modernization Order. The modernization order shifted the E-rate program’s focus to support school districts, charter schools, and public library systems in the acquisition of high-speed broadband and the deployment of bandwidth-intensive digital learning technologies.  A key component of the order provides each applicant with a finite, five-year Category Two budget.  The Category Two budget affords each applicant a reservoir of funds to help build robust internal data and wireless networks for the delivery of high-speed broadband to pupils and staff.

The modernization order is due to sunset after the 2019-2020 fiscal year.  In the absence of further action by the FCC, any applicant that has not used or applied for Category Two funding may lose access to those monies going forward.  All applicants should treat this upcoming application cycle as the final opportunity to leverage the E-rate program as a means to deploy modern and scalable data and wireless networks.

Fiscal Year 2019 – 2020 Filing Window  The FCC has established a filing window for E-rate funding applications of Jan. 16 to Mar. 27, 2019.  As such, applicants must file any necessary Forms 470 to initiate the bidding process for eligible equipment and/or services no later than Feb. 27, 2019.  Failure to complete the filing process in accordance with E-rate Program rules by Mar. 27, 2019 will result in a forfeiture of any E-rate funds that would otherwise have been available for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

It is imperative that any school district or charter school seeking to explore this opportunity should have its technology and/or business department(s) contact its E-rate consultant as soon as possible to discuss potential projects and determine the extent of Category Two funds available.

Get Started Today NJSBA has partnered with E-rate Consulting, Inc. (ERC) to help schools leverage the opportunities available through the E-rate Program. In addition to administrative support, ERC provides guidance to help facilitate the efficient and effective delivery of a school district’s technology objectives. Because the program is deadline-driven, ERC will assist districts with planning purchasing decisions so they adhere to the funding cycle’s rigid timelines, thereby preserving eligibility for E-rate discounts.

To learn more, please contact Vincent LaForgia, President of ERC at vince@erateconsulting.com.

The partnership is available through NJSBA’s Technology for Education and Career (NJSBA TEC) program and cooperative pricing system. The program, supported by the New Jersey Department of Education, enables school districts and member charter schools to purchase deeply discounted school technology, and access free and low-cost resources. The cooperative pricing system eliminates the need for districts to undergo the competitive bidding process on a wide range of technology. Learn more.

The NJSBA is also working in collaboration with the national nonprofit EducationSuperHighway to provide no-cost support to help make the best use of E-rate funding. To learn about the technical assistance, tools, and resources, contact the EducationSuperHighway team member Greer Ahlquist at greer@educationsuperhighway.org.