E-Rate Frequently Asked Questions
The 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 Federal 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?
Schools and libraries can apply for discounted E-Rate services by submitting a request to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The E-Rate application is posted on the USAC website, where competitors can bid for the contract. All bids must comply with FCC, state and local regulations.
Once a school or library selects an internet provider, it submits an application to the USAC for approval. If approved, the vendor gets the go-ahead to provide the requested services and is reimbursed for any discounts by the USAC.
Who is Eligible for E-Rate Funding?
Requests for funding for E-Rate for schools and libraries 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. While all schools and libraries in the U.S. are eligible for funding, the program is capped at $3.9 billion annually, indexed to inflation.
Finding an E-Rate Provider
Approved schools and libraries put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) and obtain proposals from eligible providers. An experienced E-Rate provider will know all the pros and cons of internet in schools, and be prepared to offer E-Rate consulting so that you can get the most out of the program.
Where Can I Learn More?
To learn more about the E-Rate program, advantages of technology in education, E-Rate funding for schools and/or how to get internet for schools, Cable ONE Business offers a variety of resources: