E-rate

E-rate

E-rate Funding Year 2022 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.

E-rate 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

Upcoming Form 486 deadlines are:

Wave 55 — 09/15/2022
Wave 56 — 09/26/2022

September 21, 2022:

Comments due on the FCC’s proposed Eligible Services List (DA 22-878) for FY 2023. Reply comments are due October 6th.

September 30, 2022:

Service delivery deadline for FY 2021 non-recurring services.

October 18, 2022:

Beginning of USAC’s fall E-rate training program.

October 24, 2022:

Nominations due for six USAC Board of Directors Positions (see DA 22‑877).

October 25, 2022:

EPC administrative window opens.

October 28, 2022:

Invoice deadline for FY 2021 recurring service FRNs and/or the deadline for requesting a one-time 120-day extension to February 27, 2023.

October 31, 2022:

The first Form 486 deadline for FY 2022 Waves 1-11, committed before July 1, 2022.

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.

COVID-19 Response

USAC Training for FY 2022

At the beginning of November 2020, USAC conducted a series of nine online training sessions addressing the basics of E-rate. Recordings of those sessions are 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. E-Rate Central urges you to participate.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The 2022 survey is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/22erate. The survey consists of 34 primary questions, plus 6 more optional demographic items. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete.
  • Survey results are completely confidential. Only aggregate data is reported.
  • E-Rate Central urges you to pay particular attention to four new questions added this year regarding the proposed competitive bidding portal (see our newsletter of November 29, 2021). Initial comments on this proceeding (FCC 21-124) are due April 27th.
  • Funds For Learning, which like E-Rate Central is an E-rate consultant, does not use survey responses as a marketing tool. E-Rate Central is confident in the integrity of FFL’s survey process and encourages you to participate.

Last year, responses were received from approximately 10% of the E-rate applicant base. Given the importance of this survey to the entire E-rate community — applicants, service providers, administrators, and particularly policymakers — E-Rate Central would like to see even greater participation this year.

Contact Information

TEA Contact:
erate@tea.texas.gov