E-rate funds help level the playing field for school districts in Texas and across the U.S. by making information and telecommunications services more affordable. As more schools incorporate digital applications and tools into their curriculums, access to reliable, high-speed internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides eligible schools with funding from the Universal Service Fund to cover the costs of telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections. With significant regulatory changes to the e-rate program on the horizon, now is the best time for schools to leverage e-rate funds to make improvements.
The e-rate process and rules vary from one year to the next. Schools can seek guidance from technology consultants to navigate through the process. Here are the steps TFE recommends.
Step 1: Evaluate your resources
Evaluating your resources and deciding ahead of time who will manage your application is a critical first step in the process. Schools that do not have the advantage of a large in-house IT department may wish to bring in outside consultants to complete the application process. The team at TFE efficiently handles the deadline-intensive process required to get your school access to e-rate funds. We relieve you from the burden of managing and monitoring the application process to focus your efforts on the day-to-day tasks of running a school.
Step 2: Create a technology vision
Part of the process of obtaining e-rate funds for your school involves creating a technology vision. An integral part of planning includes engaging teachers, students and their families, and other stakeholders to discuss how your school can best utilize technology to enhance learning. You can solicit their opinions via surveys and hold informational meetings to discuss your plans and receive input from your school community.
What works best for another school may not be in your school’s best interests. We can help your school create a technology vision that considers your individual needs and goals.
Step 3: Assess and prioritize
Once your school identifies its technology vision, the next step is to assess what is needed to achieve your goals and prioritize them in order of importance. This step requires a thoughtful evaluation of your school’s current technology situation. Compare your present technology situation to where you plan to go with your e-rate funds. Doing so helps your school determine what data network solutions it needs to help you reach your technology objectives.
Step 4: Plan and update your network
Part of creating an effective technology vision includes anticipating future needs. Planning for upgrades and other updates needed to keep your technology goals aligned to your vision is crucial to success. If your district uses e-rate funds to provide reliable Wi-Fi in every building, you should plan to upgrade that wireless technology in four years. Likewise, suppose you plan to use your funds to launch a 1:1 digital program for your students. In that case, you will want to include future funding to replace laptops in cycles. Our team can assist with crafting a technology plan that meets current and future needs.
Step 5: Monitor deadlines
Monitoring E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) deadlines can mean the difference between getting your application in on time and missing crucial targets. Our team can monitor your account to ensure you receive notifications as soon as they become available. This allows for efficiently managed program processes on your behalf.
TFE has the expertise to help schools maximize their e-rate funds. We provide innovative technology solutions for Texas schools that empower and protect your technology assets. Our e-rate-eligible products provide equal access to students at prices schools can afford. Contact us today to make the most of your e-rate funds.