This February, VectorUSA and Fortinet hosted an E-Rate and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act webinar, which covered key updates on the funding packages, a look ahead at future relief funding, and tips on how to maximize your resource dollars.
Curtis Paradzick, Vice President of Sales for VectorUSA, was joined by Jeff Jennings, National State and Local Education Director at Fortinet, and Catherine Banker, Education Compliance Director at VectorUSA. Together, VectorUSA and Fortinet bring decades of insight and knowledge of the rules and regulations that govern the funding programs, and they used this webinar to share updates and their perspectives for the road ahead.
Federal Relief Packages and Budget Proposals
The combination of the COVID-19 public health crisis, the dramatic shift to distance learning, and the rise of cyber actors exploiting new security vulnerabilities has made it even more important for organizations to take advantage of the Federal funding available to upgrade their technology and network infrastructure.
However, it can be difficult to keep track of the different programs and funding levels. Here are some of the key fiscal figures that Jeff Jennings highlighted for schools to keep track of.
Funding from the CARES and CRRSA Acts
Although most organizations already are implementing the funding provided in the first Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, it is important to continue to plan ahead to maximize the additional $54 billion in funding allocated for education in the supplement to the CRRSA, also known as the CARES Act II,
Because all of this funding is from the federal government, it’s a great way to provide all of the financial resources needed to keep learning going at all levels. The funding also comes with 12 broad spending categories, giving schools plenty of latitude to invest in needed technology.
In terms of the specifics, here’s how these allocations break down:
- CRRSA: Congress allocated an additional $54.3 billion for the second Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, on top of the initial CARES Act’s $13.2 billion allocation.
- ESSER Fund II: Schools have until September 2022 to take advantage of the first wave of ESSER funding and September 2023 for the second. According to Fortinet analysis, only 61 percent of schools have taken advantage of this funding so far, to support their technology needs.
- HEERF II: The second Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) provides an additional $21.2 billion for technology resources that higher learning institutions need to continue to educate.
- President Biden’s Recovery Package: Under the current proposal, the plan allocates an additional $175 billion for distance learning, internet, security, and technology needs. The plan would provide $130 billion for K-12 schools and $35 billion for higher education.
Changes to the E-Rate Program
Schools also need to be prepared for the notable changes coming to the E-Rate program, which will take effect in July 2021. These include:
- Funding per full-time student will increase to $167 per year for a five-year period. Although the allocation per year will not change, schools can update their enrollment numbers for additional funding.
- FCC funding will be provided to an entire school district using a single funding request number (FRN) for Internal Connections for the District, which allows for allocation according to their own district-wide plan.
- Equipment transfer rules will be eliminated within a school district, allowing for the free transfer of equipment from site to site, as needed.
Rounding out the webinar, Catherine Banker offered advice for those districts and institutions looking to put the key components in place to maximize the available funding.
In addition to creating a team composed of the key stakeholders, including network engineers, IT leadership, facilities managers, budget officers, and administrators, it is important to establish a relationship with a partner like VectorUSA to expedite your planning and implementation efforts.
VectorUSA understands the key features of CARES and CRRSA funding, as well as the E-Rate program, which will enable you to create a plan that best utilizes your dollars for what you need today and into the future. For example, funding from both CARES Acts I and II, can be used to pay for any professional services and implementation costs related to your E-Rate initiatives based on your local procurement rules.
Where to Learn More
No matter where you are in your understanding of the E-Rate program or your planning for how CRRSA funding can benefit your organization, VectorUSA has the experience to help you to navigate each stage of the funding lifecycle. Not only do we have subject matter experts, but we also have the key partnerships in place to help you to implement, secure, and maintain the services you need for compliance and high availability for your users.
To learn more about how VectorUSA can be your trusted partner, contact us.