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E-rate Program


The schools and libraries universal service support program, commonly known as the E-rate program, helps schools and libraries to obtain affordable broadband.

Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.  Funding may be requested under two categories of service: category one services to a school or library (telecommunications, telecommunications services and Internet access), and category two services that deliver Internet access within schools and libraries (internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services). 

Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and whether the school or library is located in an urban or rural area. The discounts range from 20 percent to 90 percent of the costs of eligible services. 
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation created in 1997 to collect universal service contributions from telecommunications carriers and administer universal support mechanisms (programs) designed to help communities across the country secure access to affordable telecommunications services. USAC carries out its functions as the administrator of the federal universal service programs and Universal Service Fund (USF) under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Eligibility for Participation

For purposes of USF support, public libraries must meet the statutory definition of library or library consortium found in the 1996 Library Services and Technology Act (Pub. L. 104-208) (LSTA) must be eligible for assistance from a State library administrative agency under that Act. Details about eligibility and getting started in the E-rate Program are located on the Schools and Libraries Before You Begin section of the USAC website.

Eligible Services

Each year, before the FCC Form 471 application filing window opens, the FCC releases an Eligible Services List (ESL) for the upcoming funding year. This list contains a description of the products and services that will be eligible for discounts, along with additional helpful information such as eligibility conditions for each category of service for each specified funding year.
It is strongly recommended that you review the ESL page, the ESL Glossary (PDF),  and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before you file an FCC Form 470 to open your competitive bidding process so you know which services are eligible for the upcoming year.
Additional information about eligible services is available at the Eligible Services section on the USAC website.

Further Information

There are multiple resources available to E-rate participants who have questions or are in need of training:
To learn more about the E-rate Program, apply for the E-rate Program support, and learn about eligibility, application forms, data tools, and more, visit the E-rate section of the USAC website. 



Darci Hanning
Public Library Consultant