How Can Schools Use the E-Rate Program?

The E-Rate program is a government initiative directed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) that helps to ensure all U.S. schools and libraries have access to robust broadband. This effort aims to make information services and internet more affordable for schools across America. In recent years, the program has been modernized to include WiFi services to support expanded connectivity. 

How Can the E-Rate Program Help?

Schools are increasingly dependent upon internet connections. Teachers assign and students submit work through online platforms. Parents stay connected to the classroom and receive information regarding student performance, attendance and other communications and school news.

Online educational programs also make it easier for students to receive customized educational tools, whether they need additional support or require accelerated learning opportunities. Children get an expanded view of the world through multimedia experiences only available on the web.

By providing communities with better internet in schools, students from all socioeconomic backgrounds have access to the same educational tools they’ll need to thrive in today’s increasingly computerized world. Online learning programs are becoming more prevalent and can help students improve their educational outcomes regardless of geography and financial factors. 

When your school qualifies for the E-Rate program, you may pay considerably less than commercial rates for the same service. A school or district with a small budget or that simply can’t afford to stock library shelves with learning materials can benefit greatly from online access. With fiber internet through the E-Rate program, discounted services help schools and libraries get the technology services they need or upgrade to better and faster service. 

How Are Discounts Determined?

E-Rate funding for schools and libraries can save between 20 to 90 percent for services like fiber internet and broadband. The discounts are determined by the level of need, along with the rural or urban status of the community. Discounts will be different for each entity. Eligible schools can apply individually or as part of a group; for example, a single school or a school district can apply.

How Does My School Apply?

Your school must apply for and receive acceptance into the E-Rate program before you’ll receive discounted services. Applying for the E-Rate program is an extensive process that involves several steps and forms that must be completed. In fact, there are organizations whose sole purpose is assisting schools and libraries with the E-Rate application process.

The E-Rate program is making the online world accessible to those who might otherwise be unable to connect. The internet is an integral part of providing students with the skills and educational foundation they need to prepare for tomorrow’s jobs. By offsetting costs for schools and libraries, all students have the chance to learn, explore and grow.