The Secret To Leveraging E-Rate—Unlock Funding For Your School

A guide to successful E-Rate applications for school administrators.

It’s no secret that strategic IT solutions can help to improve any type of organization—especially when it comes to education. Technological advances continue to make information more readily available for all students and teachers, allowing for a seamless online world of knowledge, possibilities, and opportunity.

Unfortunately, K-12 schools tend to lack the necessary resources to properly pay for telecommunications services and support. Do you lack the financial resources to effectively support your IT?

IT Is A Critical Pain Point For Today’s Schools

As a result of small and rigid budgets, many schools are unable to update and maintain their IT as well as they should. The problem is only made worse by the fact that schools are expected to keep up with increasingly modern technology trends and how they can be incorporated into the classroom.

This can lead to serious issues. In addition to being seen as outdated in terms of their students’ expectations of a more modern learning environment, schools also have to deal with a range of negative effects to user experience and school-wide efficiency.

There are many reasons that a school may need to update their technology:

  1. Speed & Performance: The most direct result of age in the technology life cycle is speed. The older your systems are, the slower it will run. Every minute you, your staff and your students spend waiting on a slow connection to respond is time wasted.
  2. Digital Transformation: Schools that expect to offer modern learning environments for students need the right systems to support them. E-learning, cloud-based resources and more are highly resource-intensive. You need the right network performance capabilities to ensure you meet standards of speed and accessibility for your students.
  3. Repair ROI: The older your systems get, the more often you’ll need to call someone to fix it. The more you need someone to fix it, the less effective those fixes become. That means paying more and more for support to come in and get it running again, the returns on which will quickly diminish.

What Is The E-Rate Program?

The E-Rate Program, as implemented by the FCC, is designed to help make telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries. This program is supported by funding from the Universal Service Fund.

E-Rate offers discounts on key technologies and IT services such as Internet access and internal connection systems. It is intended to support schools in their effort to maintain modern and high-performance networks.

Approved applicants can receive discounts on the following types of technologies:

  • Telecommunications
  • Telecommunications services
  • Internet access
  • Internal connections
  • Managed internal broadband services
  • Basic maintenance of internal connections.

Approved discounts can be from 20 to 90 percent. How much you may qualify for depends on the poverty level of your district. Furthermore, rural schools and libraries may also receive a higher discount based on the punishing economy of telecom services in their markets.

More often than not, a school will fail to secure E-Rate discounts because they are working independently. E-Rate is more likely to approve a proposal if it benefits as many students and people in need as possible. That’s why you should partner with local agencies, schools and libraries to form joint proposals that benefit the most educators and students possible.

Orion Networks Will Help You Secure E-Rate Discounts

If you’re planning to apply for an E-Rate discount, your first step will be to determine the current state of your network and IT systems—Orion Networks can help.

By performing a network assessment, we will determine how and where your IT environment may be lacking right now, and how it can be improved with the right financial support. Our network assessment service will examine a range of important network aspects:

  • Infrastructure: The operating system versions, application types, circuits, and other equipment that make up the design and implementation of your network.
  • Security: All internal/external entry points, as well as any vulnerabilities within file or database servers or applications.
  • Management: The network management strategy, including schedules for monitoring, maintenance, and patching.
  • Performance: All information gathered will be combined with a thorough analysis of traffic to determine over-utilization and/or availability issues.

Our robust assessment will identify every part of your network that needs to be addressed in a remediation project. We will prioritize components that contribute to the quality of your educators’ and students’ experience as users.

With the information gathered in our assessment, we will develop a strategy for mitigating any issues with upgrades and new solutions, all of which can be specified in an E-Rate proposal.

Don’t Let Your Students Suffer—Get E-Rate Discounts With Expert Assistance From Orion Networks

Functional and secure IT is absolutely vital for all sorts of tasks your students strive to accomplish, whether it’s communicating with other students, accessing information, or sending assignments to teachers.

Your staff and students deserve the absolute best—and with expert guidance from Orion Networks, that’s finally possible. Our experience in working with Independent and K-12 schools has been developed over our many years in business. As an E-Rate vendor, we have actively supported schools as an expert resource for strategic and budgetary planning for E-Rate funding.

If you need help planning your IT and taking advantage of E-Rate, get in touch with our team.