E-rate Funding 2020: Use It or Lose It?


The new FCC Report & Order on the U.S. government’s E-rate rules of engagement for 2020 and beyond are here. And it includes some critical E-rate funding changes that could impact current K-12 budgets.

First, this highly anticipated order permanently locks in Category Two (CAT2) funding for the E-rate program. Many rumors were flying around that E-rate program funding for infrastructure was going away. Well, we have our answer: it is here to stay!

Another critical change of the E-rate program concerns budgets. E-rate budgets begin a new cycle that will be in subsequent five-year periods starting in 2021.

What does that mean to schools and libraries participating in the program? Essentially, if a school or library is sitting on a bucket of CAT2 monies from the 2015-2020 season, then they must spend it now in E-rate 2020 or they will lose that funding (exact date to be released in January). This means there are millions of dollars sitting idle that schools and libraries must take advantage of this funding period.

Don’t lose E-rate 2020 funding

Now is the time for schools to act. There will undoubtedly be a tidal wave of applications to surge in the coming weeks. This E-rate season has been slow for Form 470 postings compared to past years and the delay in the Order has created a ‘watch-and-wait-to-post’ environment.

This delay created a short window for schools and libraries to act upon their funding requests. But when will the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) start the clock on Form 471 posting season? Usually this would happen mid-January. With the rules of engagement posting so late in the year, will the E-rate 2020 season extend beyond March? We should know more soon.

What is E-rate?

To help offset funding and staffing shortages, the U.S. Department of Education and the FCC launched the E-rate program, which helps make telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools, campuses, districts and libraries.

The E-rate program is operated by the USAC, which has a core focus of providing underfunded verticals the access to affordable technology and security services. This includes schools, libraries, rural healthcare organizations and more. USAC provides a yearly Eligible Services List (ESL), which outlines which types of products and services can be procured via E-rate program discounts.

SonicWall and E-rate

Through its global channel of more than 21,000 technology partners, SonicWall is actively involved in helping K-12 education organizations cost-effectively obtain and deploy network security solutions. SonicWall provides a broad array of E-rate-eligible products and services, including firewalls and turnkey Security-as-a-Service solutions.

SonicWall integrated solutions meet the needs of school districts at the highest efficacy and at price points that fit within K-12 budget constraints. SonicWall helps reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for these under-funded organizations.

With the most comprehensive channel program in the industry, combined with additional E-rate discounts, SonicWall and our partners are best positioned to meet the needs of K-12 customers and help them take full advantage of the funding E-rate provides for securing their networks.

If you are an eligible K-12 organization, please contact your preferred SonicWall reseller for information on E-rate benefits and discounts, or visit the SonicWall E-rate page for information, tools and guidance.

For more information on applying for E-rate funding, watch SonicWall’s step-by-step video series. Or, you can submit a request to talk to a SonicWall E-rate expert now.

Navigating the E-rate Program

Holly Davis
SLED Consultant | Komplément
Holly is an award-winning, entrepreneurial sales leader with demonstrated experience in advising, planning, developing and driving the implementation of solutions to improve business operations. Recognized for developing public and private partnerships with complementary organizations to develop innovative solutions for critical business issues. Holly has proven excellence with 25 years of strong sales leadership and management expertise in developing sales programs for the public sector with key strengths in K-12, E-rate, higher education, state and local government.