The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) application window for the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund, to promote connectivity for students and educators, is now open through August 13. Eligible school districts may submit requests for funding for the costs associated with eligible equipment and services to meet the remote learning needs of students and school staff. NJPSA encourages you and your district to apply on your school’s behalf for the upcoming school year! Please see this FCC fact sheet for more information. FCC fact sheet for members
The FCC application process is very similar to how districts apply for E-Rate funds so if a district has received E-Rate before, it should be simple for them to replicate that application process. Funding must be used for:
- the purchase of eligible equipment and/or advances telecommunications and information services for use by students, school staff, and library patrons with unmet needs at locations other than a school or library;
- Broadband service on connected devices (laptop computers and tablet computers) can be funded as well as modems, Wi-Fi hotspots, routers, and devices that combine a modem and routers. (Desktop computers, smartphones, and dark fiber are not eligible);
Here are some additional helpful things to know:
- Each applying school’s best “estimate of need” will need to be provided in the application, but surveys are not the only way to estimate need. Existing data on the school can be used. Schools can use free and reduced lunch rates to estimate the needs since it is publicly available data.
- Even if schools are back 100% in-person, they are still eligible to receive funds;
- Schools can purchase connected laptops that are more than $400 dollars, but can only be reimbursed up to $400 dollars;
- There is no specific cap on purchased internet subscription;
- There is no cap on the amount a district can submit/request;
- Schools can apply for home connectivity and bus connectivity;
- Schools can use ECF funds for internet services on school buses, either parked or moving;
- School staff that provide educational services to students such as teachers and paraprofessionals are eligible to receive funding.
- Keep records of your expenditures since schools may be asked to provide documentation on how they used the money later on; and
- The ECF Program will wait until the application filing window has closed to decide upon the applications and send out notifications.