E-Rate Frequently Asked Questions
The federal E-Rate program was mandated by Congress to make internet and other telecommunications services more affordable to the nation’s schools and libraries. Enacted in 1996, when only 14 percent of K-12 had internet access at school, the E-Rate program has made it possible for virtually all schools and libraries to enjoy the advantages of technology in the classroom.
What Are E-Rate Eligible Services?
The Federal E-Rate program details two levels of services that can be acquired through participating internet service providers.
E-Rate Category 1 services include:
- Internet access
- Telecommunications-related services
E-Rate Category 2 services include:
- Internal connections
- Managed broadband services
- Basic maintenance of internal connections
How Does E-Rate Funding Work?
Your school or library can qualify for discounted E-Rate services by completing an in-depth application process through the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Your initial application is posted on the USAC website, where service providers can bid for your contract.
Once you’ve selected an internet provider, you must submit further information to the USAC for approval. If your contract is approved, the service provider can then provide the requested services and will be reimbursed for any discounts directly by the USAC.
Who is Eligible for E-Rate Funding?
While all schools and libraries in the U.S. are eligible for E-Rate funding, the program is capped at $3.9 billion annually, indexed to inflation, so requests for funding are prioritized based on need, with areas of greater poverty considered first. Depending on financial circumstances, the program provides discounts ranging from 20 to 90 percent.
How do I Find an E-Rate Provider?
As part of the application process, schools and libraries put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) and obtain contract proposals from eligible providers. An experienced E-Rate provider will know all the pros and cons of internet in schools, and will be prepared to offer E-Rate consulting so that you can get the most out of the program.
Where Can I Learn More?
You can find more information about the E-Rate program, advantages of technology in education, E-Rate funding for schools and/or how to get internet for schools, by visiting the FCC E-Rate Website. You can also learn more about the application process by visiting the Universal Service Administrative Company’s website.