Top 5 Benefits of E-Rate Funding

In 1996, Congress approved the E-Rate program that allows schools to receive discounts on internet and other telecommunications services. When it launched, only 14 percent of the country’s K-12 schools had internet access on campus. 

Today that percentage is significantly higher, although several U.S. schools have yet to apply for E-Rate discounts. If your school or district is one of them, you may want to consider the pros and cons of internet in schools along with the benefits of the E-Rate program to see what you may be missing.

The following is the Top 5 most significant benefits of using E-Rate to see firsthand the advantages of technology in education:

  1. 20 to 90 Percent Savings  Depending on financial standing and need, a school can save anywhere between 20 and 90 percent on eligible services through a participating internet provider. The national average, according to the FCC, is 74 percent. This cost reduction may free up funds to re-distribute to other areas of the school’s budget, such as teacher salaries, equipment, and facilities.
  2. Technology in the Classroom - Higher Student-to-Device/Service Level —When technology in the classroom is more affordable, more students can have access to the internet and online learning opportunities. Case in point: In Lafayette, Louisiana, the school district’s 80 percent discount will allow each student to have his or her own iPad or Chromebook by 2020. This, in turn, will enable them to participate in statewide testing programs.
  3. Internet Access at School — For many schools without a sufficient telecommunications infrastructure, “rationing” of tech-based services, such as live streaming, can limit certain learning activities or eliminate them altogether. With E-Rate funding, many schools have been able to increase their technical services, giving them greater access to educational content.
  4. Access Where Students Need It — Many American families lack the financial means to afford high-speed internet, and others in rural areas also lack access to internet service providers. Schools with reliable internet for students in these circumstances offer critical access to information and content. E-Rate makes it possible for more schools to provide it.
  5. Advantages of Technology in Education — Technology makes it easier for teachers and students to connect. Here are just some of the advantages to teacher-student connectivity:
    • Better Tracking — Internet-enabled platforms simplify tracking and allow parents to monitor their child’s progress throughout the school year.
    •  Greater Access — Technology allows teachers to provide content from virtually anywhere, from cloud-based services to live-streaming lectures.
    •  24/7 Learning Opportunities — Students and teachers can connect beyond the walls of schools and outside of typical time frames. Students can ask questions and receive help while working on homework, even outside of normal school hours.
    •  “Green” Teaching — Online and web-based teaching saves paper and eliminates the need for students to carry around a book for each class subject.

Some Things to Watch

While many agree there are more benefits than cautions when it comes to internet for schools, it’s important to point out that issues like cyber-bullying, access to inappropriate content, and misuse by students or teachers are part of the landscape. These issues are successfully managed by many schools with digital citizenship education and training, and by enacting policies to protect users that set the tone for life-long responsible use.

With appropriate oversight, the benefits of internet in schools continue to outweigh the risks. More schools need internet-based solutions to support the education they provide, and what better way to bring internet into the classroom than E-Rate funding?