E-rate

Funding Year 2024 Information

Based on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the E-rate program to provide schools and libraries affordable access to advanced telecommunications services. The E-rate program, also known as the Universal Service Schools and Libraries Program, is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). This program provides discounts ranging from 20 to 90 percent on telecommunications services, internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.

To receive E-rate discounts, schools and libraries must competitively bid on all eligible services on the USAC E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) website and, after a minimum of 28 days, select the most cost-effective proposal. Schools and libraries then apply for E-rate discounts. If approved, schools and libraries receive discounts through direct discounted bills or the reimbursement process.

Why should you apply for E-rate? FREE MONEY! In Texas, most accredited public libraries are eligible for an 80%-90% discount.

Program Details

The E-rate section of USAC's website provides resources for new applicants or applicants continuing to participate in the program.

Eligible Services

Important Dates

April 05, 2024:

The Form 486 deadline for FY 2023 Wave 33.  More generally, the Form 486 deadline is 120 days from the FCDL date or from the service start date (typically July 1st), whichever is later.  Upcoming Form 486 deadlines are:

Wave 34 04/12/2024
Wave 35 04/19/2024
Wave 36 04/26/2024

April 10, 2024:

Two weeks after the March 27th close of the FY 2024 application window.  Traditionally, the FCC has routinely granted out-of-window waivers for all late-filed Form 471 applications filed and certified within two weeks of the window close without a requirement to show an “extraordinary” reason for the delay.

April 18, 2024:

USAC webinar on Program Integrity Assurance (“PIA”) and Selective Reviews (registration).

June 30, 2024:

Last day to receive FY 2023 recurring services and all ECF Window 3 services

August 29, 2024:

Invoice deadline for ECF Window 3 applications.

Other Resources

E-RATE TIPS:

  • Applicants: Update your Account Administrator and User Permissions. USAC recommends reviewing and making changes to your E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) account administrator, if needed, and reviewing all permissions associated with your account. If your AA is not available (e.g., has left your organization), the Customer Service Center (CSC) at 888-203-8100 can help you transfer account administrator rights.

  • Each year, USAC updates applicant profiles in EPC using the reviewed and approved profile information from their current year FCC Form 471 application(s). The EPC administrative window, which is currently open, allows applicants to make updates to their profile information to prepare for the upcoming FY2023 application filing window. Visit the EPC Administrative Window page to learn more about updating your EPC profile information.

  • Update your Student Count and NSLP Data for FY2023. As a reminder, applicants should provide updated student enrollment and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) numbers for their FY2023 applications during the EPC Administrative Window as they are no longer permitted to rely on prior years’ numbers due to COVID-19.

  • USAC updated the FCC Form 498 for all service providers on November 16, 2022 to require service providers to have an active unique entity identifier (UEI) through SAM.gov in order to submit an FCC Form 498. This only applies to service providers that submit a new FCC Form 498 or revise their current FCC Form 498 at this time. To learn more, read our latest bulletin and watch the new Register for a New 498 ID and Update SAM.gov Unique Entity ID on the FCC Form 498 videos.

  • State of Texas third-party verification emails for the E-Rate program regarding the eligibility of schools and libraries within Texas can be sent to erate@tea.texas.gov

COVID-19 Response

USAC Training for FY 2024

USAC has a list of all webinars including recordings addressing the basics of E-rate available on the webinars page of the USAC website.

Affordable Connectivity Program

The Federal Communications Commission announced that 20 of the nation's internet providers have committed to lowering costs for low-income households, a step that will essentially provide free high-speed internet for those participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program.

E-rate Discount Calculation

Your school can receive an E-rate discount of 20 to 90 percent depending on its location (in an urban or rural area) and the economic needs of your students. The level of economic needs is determined by the percentage of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). A school district must divide the total number of students in the district eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) by the total number of students in the district. The district must then use the E-rate Program discount matrix to convert that resulting single percentage figure into an E-rate Program discount rate. If a majority (i.e., more than 50 percent) of the schools in a district are classified as “rural,” the district is eligible for a rural discount. The online FCC Form 471 will guide you through this process and will do the calculations and lookups for you.

To calculate your school’s E-rate discount, you must determine the percentage of students by school who are eligible for the NSLP. Eligibility criteria is based on whether or not a student's family falls within the income eligibility guidelines of NSLP. Eligibility is not based on a student's participation in NSLP.

Additional information and requirements for the E-Rate program are available at the following links:

FY2021+ Category Two Budget Tool Is Now Available

FY2021+ Category Two Budget Tool is designed to assist applicants in determining their Category Two budgets for each five-year cycle beginning with the first budget cycle, which starts in FY2021 and ends in FY2025. View the FY2021+ Category Two Budget Tool video tutorial to see how it works.

E-rate Federal Communications Commission Links

The following Federal Communication Commission (FCC) resources may be helpful:

E-rate Universal Service Administrative Company Schools and Libraries Program Links

The following Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) Schools and Libraries Program resources may be helpful:

Funds for Learning Nationwide Survey

For more than a decade, Funds For Learning (“FFL”) has been conducting a nationwide survey asking schools and libraries to contribute their opinions and experiences regarding the E‑rate program. These surveys have become an increasingly important source of information for Congress, the FCC, and USAC to help them evaluate the E-rate program. E-Rate Central believes that FFL’s survey is an extremely important vehicle, particularly for policymakers, to understand the needs of the E-rate community. A copy of the 2021 survey results, as provided to the FCC, is worth reviewing to understand the survey’s importance. FY2023 Applicant Survey is now available. Take a moment to share your ideas via this anonymous survey.

Texas Digital Opportunity Surveys

Texas Broadband Development Office (BDO) is developing the Texas Digital Opportunity Plan which will serve as a roadmap for expanding the availability of reliable and affordable broadband, device access, digital skills training, and cybersecurity awareness to promote digital opportunities for all Texans.

For Community Members

A major step in this process is to identify the digital opportunity barriers faced by Texas households, such as lack of infrastructure, digital literacy, affordable service or access to devices. To better understand these barriers, BDO has developed the Texas Digital Opportunity Public Survey to collect information about what households are experiencing with broadband internet accessibility, affordability and adoption. Widespread input will ensure the state develops an inclusive plan that effectively addresses the digital opportunity needs of all Texans. To ensure everyone in the state has a voice, the surveys are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Mandarin. English and Spanish surveys are also available as PDFs.

You have until August 31 to take the survey.

For Organizations and Local Governments

If your organization depends on broadband access to provide various programs and services to communities, please complete the Digital Resources Mapping Tool Survey. You have until August 31 to take the survey.

 

Contact Information

TEA Contact:
erate@tea.texas.gov