Federal Grants Available to Expand Distance Learning

April 10, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ Schools in rural communities across West Virginia and the nation are being encouraged to apply for nearly $153 million in federal grants and loans to expand distance learning and telemedicine programs.  

The money, including $62.9 million in loans, $75 million in loan and grant combinations and $15 million in grants is being offered through the United States Department of Agriculture - Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.  

The distance learning program finances equipment to expand educational resources to students and educational institutions in isolated rural areas, while telemedicine gives rural residents access to medical specialists.  

"Telemedicine and distance learning are the foundation on which the quality of education and health care in rural America can and will improve," said Thomas C. Dorr, agriculture under secretary for rural development. "With these systems in place, rural residents will be able to take advantage of the wide variety of health care services and education programs available now and into the future."  

Last year, Fayette County schools received $490,657 through the program to install distance learning centers in six high schools.  

Applications for loans and loan and grant combinations are available at http://www.usda.gov/rus/telecom/dlt/dlt.htm or from the local Rural Development state office. A list of offices is available at www.rurdev.usda.gov.

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