E-Rate Funding for School Phone Services
The E-rate program is designed to make it easier for libraries and schools to access telecommunications and the internet in a more affordable way. Officially called the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, this program is administered by USAC, the Universal Service Administrative Company. Through E-rate funding, schools and libraries can receive discounts on phone and internet service and access technology and information.
For many areas, E-rate funding for schools makes a huge difference in the ability to support education, provide technology and serve students and families. Since E-rate eligible services include both internet and telephone/telecommunication at a discount, this program is essential for operations in areas that don’t have a large budget.
Discounts received through the Federal E-rate program will vary based on a variety of conditions. The poverty rate in the area, the school or library’s location (rural or urban) and the economic status of the students and population served by the school. To access E-rate for schools, an organization needs to apply annually and can keep track of paperwork, bids and other requirements throughout the year.
What is Covered under the E-rate program?
Libraries and schools can receive discounted rates on category 1 E-rate services, which include telecommunications services, telecommunications and internet access:
Internet and Data Services
Eligible organizations can also receive discounts on category 2 services, which include internal connections, maintenance and other components.
Discounts received range from 20 up to 90 percent and are based on the location of the school (rural areas may receive higher discounts) and the local poverty level.
Phone Services Eligible for Category 1 E-rate?
For schools and libraries that are approved for the program, phone is included as a telecommunications service. The ability to use a reliable school phone system paired with equally reliable phone service ensures that parents and students can be contacted as needed and that people within the building can access the phone services they need to perform their jobs. The process of applying for E-rate eligible phone service is the same as applying for other services in the program.
How Do Schools Get Funding Under the E-rate Program?
The organization that wants to participate in the program and receive reduced rates for phone service begins by submitting a request for bids for the specific services it wants. Once the request is received, USAC, the organization that provides the program, posts the requests on its site for fulfillment.
Service providers bid on the proposal and the school chooses a vendor; they then must submit an application to USAC for final approval.
USAC approves the process and determines how reimbursement will work; in some cases, the vendor will invoice USAC, in others, the school will pay and be reimbursed for the discounted amount.
Call Us Today for Details!
If you are considering implementing a new, school phone system, Cable ONE Business can help you navigate the complexities and necessary next steps. We are happy to assist your school (or district) with the process, including sharing more information about the E-Rate eligible services list.