The USDA announced on March 10, 2011, that the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is now accepting applications for broadband loans under the Broadband Loan Program. Although a final appropriations act has not yet been passed, RUS issued the notice now to give applicants time to submit proposals and allow RUS time to process applications within the current fiscal year. The new funding round may be up to $400 million, but RUS makes clear that there is no guarantee that funds will be available and that any expenses incurred in preparing applications are at the applicant’s own risk. Once a final appropriations act is passed RUS will issue another notice identifying the amount of funding available for broadband loans.
This round of funding is separate from loans and grants made by RUS with stimulus funding. RUS issued the last of its stimulus-funded loans and grants in September 2010.
In connection with this notice, the RUS also promulgated interim regulations for the Broadband Loan Program for the new funding round. Applicants must consult and comply with these regulations when preparing their applications.