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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Who asked for C2?

Oh goody, more numbers from Funds for Learning!  It's a summary of Category 2 (C2) funding utilization.  [OK, first off, no graph?!  C'mon FFL, you know I like my data in pictures.  And I can't even copy and paste the data into a spreadsheet to do my own analysis, since the table is a screenshot.  Really, the presentation could not be more annoying.]

And the data's not as interesting as I had hoped.  I wanted the data sliced and diced by discount level, school size, etc.  Oh well, let's see if I can tease any information out of this paucity of data.

First, the bottom line: The total possible C2 demand is $5.8 billion.  That's in line with earlier calculations.  I wonder if it might not be a little low, as some small applicants who have been scared off by the huge pile of paperwork (and huger pile of rules) may stop in to get their dollop of C2 gravy.

On the whole, applicants requested only 28% of the total possible C2 demand.  So thanks to rollover, the FCC didn't even have to up collections to the new $3.9 billion cap.  I'd like to speculate on what C2 demand will be like next year, but I don't really have any good indicators.  My gut says slightly less demand than this year, but I'm just guessing.

What can we tell about who's getting the money?  Let's see....  What's the total budget/site for each row?  The C2 budget is $126,243.59/site for those who requested their entire budget.  Those are some large, high-discount schools.  If they were all 85% schools, then the average enrollment would be 990 students/school. If they were all 40% schools, the average enrollment would be 2,104 students/school.  NCES says the average school has 517 students.  Only about 10% of schools have more than 900 kids.  Check out this table of average enrollment size taken from an NCES report (page A-5).
 Urbanicity   Elementary   Middle   Secondary 
 Total  424 569 825
 Urban  528 528 1,313
 Suburban  492 492 1,197
 Rural  354 463 577
[OK, first, I love "urbanicity."  It sounds like a word I'd make up.  It's not in Merriam-Webster or the OED, but I like it.  Can we get USAC to use "urbanicity" instead of "urban/rural status?"  Actually, "ruralocity" might be a better made-up word for the E-Rate.]
So we can safely say that there is no way that many rural schools applied for their full discount.  And no way that many 40% schools used up their full budget.

Once you get below that top row, the numbers aren't so stark.  Sites that requested some funding (but not their full budget) had average per-site C2 budgets in the $56,000-$59,000 range, which means that they tend to be larger and/or higher-discount schools, but there could be a significant number of smaller, lower-discount schools. Schools that requested no funding had an average budget of $36,344.77.

So as you'd expect, the schools that stood to get more funding were more likely to apply.