There’s an old saying that goes like this, “Hind sight is 20-20”. When looking back it’s always clearer to see what you didn’t when you were in the moment. However, unfortunately this is usually connected with a negative event.
For those school districts that decided to take advantage of the updated erate opportunity its been full steam ahead with all of the new wireless network designs and deployments.
With $3.9 billion dollars available, those school districts that choose to not apply for E-Rate, now is the time you might be looking back wishing you had.
The FCC’s increase in available funding for FY2015 and FY2016 came with a massive overhaul of the entire E-Rate program. With so many changes it’s important to make sure you’re ready for 2016 so you don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to upgrade your school’s wireless network for next year.
Here are 3 simple tips to help you successfully maximize E-Rate funding in 2016.
Even though there is plenty of funding to go around (3.9 Billion) schools shouldn’t wait until the last minute to apply. Planning should start about a year in advance or sooner. It’s critical to understand early how much of a discount you will receive from erate as well as how much you will need to fund your wireless network upgrades.
In addition to this there is a lot of benefit from filing as early as possible. For one, individual schools and school districts that file correctly (correctly being the key word) first will be reviewed first and therefore receive their funding in the first round of approvals.
Understand What’s New
Success is in the details and a great way to make sure you’re successful with E-Rate is by understanding what the new E-Rate program is all about. We suggest reading both of the official Modernization Orders to understand exactly why the FCC overhauled the program and how they changed it. Both modernization orders can be found here.
The USAC offers a mountain of valuable information to help you file correctly. In addition to answering your questions they also offer webinars, detailed guides, step-by-step "walk-throughs" and even daily tips about the application and filing process.
Have a 5 Year Plan
If you’re relying on E-Rate for your school’s wireless network upgrades than you better plan for the long-term. Although the new program doesn’t require you to have an approved technology plan, you’re going to want one. In the new program each school or district will be able to discount up to $150 dollars per student over a five year period.
This means you need to be extremely strategic with every dollar of funding to make sure you’re maximizing your spending for what you need now and what you will need going forward.
Suggested Reading - "5 Hidden Costs When Deploying Wireless Networks in School"
As we’ve seen over the last five years with mobile and wireless networking technology, things move fast so it’s safe to assume this trend will continue.
To learn more about E-Rate and how your school can start preparing for FY2016, download your E-Rate Kit below.