The E-Rate Program is a program of the Federal Communications Commission, administered by the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The E-rate program helps eligible schools receive discounts on approved computer equipment, telecommunications, internet access, and internal connection costs.
How does the program work?
To participate in the E-Rate program, a school must submit a request for a competitive bid for E-Rate services to USAC, who will post the request on its website for qualified vendors to see. Bid requests must comply with FCC requirements, as well as state and local procurement requirements. The school reviews the bids received, selects the preferred vendor, and submits the application to USAC for approval. The application will include a list of the school’s desired purchases. Upon reviewing the application, USAC will issue funding and the vendor or school will submit requests to USAC for reimbursement of approved discounts.
Eligible services for the E-Rate program fall into two funding categories:
- Data Transmission Services and Internet Access– This is broadband connectivity or basic Internet access. It does not include charges for content or equipment purchases.
- Voice Services – This service includes all telephone service (Iocal and long distance), VoIP, cell phone service (text messaging, voicemail, and data plans are not eligible), and Centrex service. DSL and satellite services are also eligible.
- Internal Connections – This refers to any equipment required for connection including routers, access points, switches, ports, and wiring.
- Managed Internal Broadband Service – These are services provided by any third party that operates, manages, and monitors eligible broadband connection components. Leased equipment requests would fall into this category.
- Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections – These are services for work performed and/or parts replaced for your internal connections.