Explanation of E-Rate

  • for those who are not familiar with the program:

     The Universal Service program for schools and libraries, more commonly known as the E-rate, is a federal initiative that provides discounts on telecommunications and Internet technologies to elementary and secondary schools and public libraries across this country. Thousands of libraries and schools, from every state in the nation, have participated in this program. All public elementary and secondary schools, as well as most K-12 private and parochial schools, are eligible for discounts under the E-rate program. According to FCC published data there are over 140,000 eligible schools. In the first year of the program, the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company received just over 30,000 applications for funding from schools and libraries. In the second year's application cycle, which closed in April1999, the SLD received more than 32,000 applications. This means that roughly 110,000 schools did not apply for or receive the funding they are entitled to. The E-rate funds a broad range of Internet and telecommunications services, including Internet access, distance learning and videoconferencing service, high speed data connections, phone service, and some internal wiring and network equipment. Although the program does provide discounts on many services, there are a host of specific services that are not funded under the program, including some types of wireless equipment, desktop computers, modems, and computer networking cards. Distinctions were made between eligible services and ineligible services based on the FCC's rules. The discounts themselves range between 20% and 90%, depending on the level of need among the students at a particular school. The level of need is measured using the levels of eligibility for the national school lunch program, which provides free and reduced-price lunches to low-income students. If you would like more information about the SLD and the E-rate program, please visit http://www.usac.org/sl