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What is the Pilot Program?

On June 6, 2024, the FCC formally voted to approve the Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program. The three-year pilot program, under the Universal Service Fund (USF), will provide up to $200 million available to support cybersecurity and advanced firewall services for eligible schools and libraries. It is scheduled to arrive in the fall.

 

According to John Windhausen, executive director of SHLB, “This initiative, aimed at bolstering cybersecurity measures for K-12 schools and libraries, represents a significant step forward in safeguarding student information and protecting school and library networks from cyber-attacks.”

Program Details

  • Pre-discount budget of $13.60 per student.
  • $15,000 minimum budget (schools with fewer than 1,100 students) and a $1.5 million budget maximum (schools with more than 110,000 students).
  • Services / equipment will be deemed eligible if they ‘constitute a protection designed to improve or enhance the cybersecurity of a K-12 schools, library or consortia.’ There will be four general categories of technology and USAC will provide multiple examples in each category.
    • Advanced and Next-Generation Firewalls
    • Endpoint Protection
    • Identity Protection and Authentication
    • Monitoring, Detection, and Response
  • Basic firewall products and services which are already eligible for E-rate program discounts won’t be eligible.
  • If pilot funds exceed the available $200 million funding cap, applications will be prioritized by Category One E-rate discount rates, starting with 90% and working downward until no funds remain.
  • If there is insufficient funding for all requests at a specific discount rate, the administrators will allocate the remaining support on a pro rata basis over that single discount percentage level.

The Application Process:

  • The application will be in two parts. The first “will collect a more general level of cybersecurity information about the applicant and its proposed Pilot project, and will use pre-populated data where possible, as well as several “yes/no” questions and questions with a predetermined set of responses.”
  • If selected to participate, an applicant will then be required to complete part two of the application, which will collect more detailed information about the applicant’s current cybersecurity posture, training, and policies and history of cyber threats.
  • If selected, participants will undergo an application process similar to E-rate, including competitive bidding, requesting discounts via certified application, and invoicing via BEAR or SPI.

More Information

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For more information and next steps, please contact your E-RATE ONLINE Account Manager!

 

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