The Secretary may provide financial assistance for the purpose of financing the construction of facilities and systems to provide telemedicine services and distance learning services in rural areas.
Financial assistance shall consist of grants or cost of money loans, or both.
The Secretary shall determine the portion of the financial assistance provided to a recipient that consists of grants and the portion that consists of cost of money loans so as to result in the maximum feasible repayment to the Federal Government of the financial assistance, based on the ability to repay of the recipient and full utilization of funds made available to carry out this chapter.
Financial assistance may be provided under this chapter for a facility regardless of the location of the facility if the Secretary determines that the assistance is necessary to provide or improve telemedicine services or distance learning services in a rural area.
The Secretary may establish the maximum amount of financial assistance to be made available to an individual recipient for each fiscal year under this chapter, by publishing notice of the maximum amount in the Federal Register not more than 45 days after funds are made available for the fiscal year to carry out this chapter.
Notwithstanding subsection (f), financial assistance provided under this chapter shall not be used for paying salaries or administrative expenses.
The Secretary may establish and carry out procedures to ensure that expedited consideration and determination is given to applications for loans and advances of funds submitted by local exchange carriers under this chapter and the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) to enable the exchange carriers to provide advanced telecommunications services in rural areas in conjunction with any other projects carried out under this chapter.
Each applicant for a grant for a telemedicine or distance learning project established under this chapter shall notify the appropriate local telephone exchange carrier regarding the application filed with the Secretary for the grant.