E-Rate Program: The Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism

Link

https://www.usac.org/e-rate/

Additional Links

E-Rate – Schools and Libraries USF Program

Deadline

Applications accepted on an ongoing basis

Sponsoring Organization

Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)

Purpose

Helps schools and libraries across the country obtain affordable broadband under the schools and libraries universal service support mechanism, known as the E-rate program. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under oversight from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program provides discounts to eligible schools and libraries, as well as consortia of eligible schools and libraries, for two service categories:

  • Category One - Services that provide connectivity to schools and libraries, which include internet access, telecommunications services, and telecommunications.
  • Category Two - Services that provide connectivity within schools and libraries, which includes internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services.

Additional information on supported services, can be found in the eligible services overview.

FCC E-rate Program frequently asked questions

Amount of Funding

Estimated total program funding: $4,150,000,000
Funding is committed up to an annual cap established by the FCC.

Discounts range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services and are based on the poverty level, the urban/rural status of the school district, and the service category.

Instructions to calculate discounts for different facilities is available on the program website. Information on rural and urban status and a tool to determine rural and urban status is available online.

For this program, a school or library is designated as urban if located in an urbanized area or urban cluster with a population of 25,000 or more as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Any school or library not designated as urban will be designated as rural.

Who Can Apply

Eligible applicants generally include:

  • Public or private K-12 schools
  • Libraries
  • Consortia of eligible schools or libraries

Eligible schools must meet the statutory definition of elementary and secondary schools found in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001:

  • An elementary school is a non-profit institutional day or residential school, including a public elementary charter school, that provides elementary education, as determined under state law.
  • A secondary school is a non-profit institutional day or residential school, including a public secondary charter school, that provides secondary education, as determined under state law, except that such term does not include any education beyond grade 12.

Eligible libraries must meet the statutory definition of library or library consortium found in the Library Services and Technology Act of 1996 and must be eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under that Act. The definition of a library includes:

  • A public library
  • A public elementary school or secondary school library
  • An academic library
  • A research library, one that makes publicly available library services and material suitable for scholarly research and not otherwise available to the public and is not an integral part of an institution of higher education
  • A private library, but only if the state in which such private library is located determines that the library should be considered a library for purposes of this definition

Additional information about eligibility requirements, definitions, and other eligible facilities can be found on the program website.

Geographic Coverage

Nationwide

What This Program Funds

Equipment

Application Process

A second filing window has been opened for the E-rate program for fiscal year 2020. The filing period runs from September 21, 2020 to October 16, 2020. This second filing window gives schools the opportunity to request additional funding to purchase more bandwidth for the current academic year due to increased need for bandwidth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commitments are made by funding year, which runs from July 1 through June 30 of the following year.

Information on starting an application, completing the required forms, and an overview of the program timetable and deadlines is available on the program website.

All applications and most program processes will be completed using an online account and application management portal, E-rate Productivity Center (EPC).

Applicant training and online resources
Past webinar recordings and training videos
Applicant frequently asked questions
Application process

Contact

For questions related to FCC Universal Service programs and policy:
Telecommunications Access Policy Division, FCC Wireline Competition Bureau
202-418-7400

For programmatic or technical questions:
USAC's Client Service Bureau (CSB)
888-203-8100
Monday through Friday
8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern

Program participants can also receive assistance by submitting a customer service case through the E-rate Productivity Center.

Rural Awards

Past awards communities received are described on the program website.

Rural communities who have received funding can be found in wave 35 of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 commitments and include:

  • Yupiit School District in Akiachak, Alaska
  • Hancock County School District in Sparta, Georgia
  • Keene School District in Keene, New Hampshire
  • North Star School District in Boswell, Pennsylvania
  • Viborg Hurley School District in Viborg, South Dakota

Topics This Program Addresses

COVID-19 Response • Infrastructure • Schools • Teleservices and Technology