By Jessica Zaleski
E-Rate 2.0 is here, and there are some important changes that might help you and your district provide broadband connectivity to your students and increase the reach of digital learning in your classrooms.
For those of you not familiar, let’s begin with a quick overview of what E-Rate is. Then we’ll dive into some of the details about how to ensure your district is compliant with the stipulations and requirements associated with E-Rate.
E-Rate is a funding stream administered by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), and was initially presented as a part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. E-Rate provides subsidies that are eligible to schools and libraries.
Last year, an E-Rate Modernization Order was introduced that goes into effect this year. It’s lovingly been nicknamed “E-Rate 2.0”, and the new elements may provide an increased opportunity for your district to invest in the infrastructure and management that address your district or school’s goals for digital learning.
E-Rate 2.0 provides subsidies for up to 90% of eligible services, which include Internet access services, managed internal broadband, and hardware (servers, switches, wireless access points, antennas, connectors, wireless controller systems, firewall services and components, and more).
What’s the Catch?
If your district qualifies for E-Rate funds, there are requirements for how you track assets purchased through the program. E-Rate 2.0 has also seen updates to these requirements. Where records previously had to be kept for 5 years, they must now be kept for 10 years. Other stipulations important for physical asset management include knowing the following details about any purchases using E-Rate funds:
- The year the asset was purchased
- The purchase order number
- The installation date
- Who installed the item
How to Navigate E-Rate
With the strict requirements around what elements you need to retain and present should you get audited, there’s no doubt that tracking inventory through the pen and paper or spreadsheet method simply won’t cut it. With a comprehensive inventory management program like TIPWeb-IT, tracking those details for easy and long-term access keeps you covered.
In addition to your inventory management software, we also recommend a strong partnership with a services team that can prepare you for an audit, and help you lay the foundation for keeping clean and efficient inventory that aligns with the E-Rate 2.0 reimbursement program. The Hayes Software Systems services team can perform an inventory audit for you before the E-Rate auditors pay you a visit.
Having an innovative inventory management program from a knowledgeable and experienced partner will ensure you and your colleagues can spend more time identifying the most effective way to use your E-Rate assets for student learning, and less time thinking about how to track those assets.