E-rate OverviewThe Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable high-speed Internet and telecommunication services.
Universal service is the principle that all Americans should have access to communication services and is the cornerstone of the law that established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Communications Act of 1934. The Communications Act of 1934 helped make telephone service available and affordable all across the United States. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 expanded the traditional goal of universal service to include increased access to both high-speed Internet and telecommunication services. The Schools and Libraries Program (commonly referred to as E-rate) is one of four FCC universal service programs administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The goal of making high-speed Internet and telecommunication services affordable for eligible schools is achieved by providing discounts based on need and the category of service.
Eligible E-rate Entities
Applicants are required to provide documentation that verifies each eligible E-rate entity as a school, annex, or Non-Instructional Facility (NIF). While each of these entities qualify for Category One services, only schools and annexes qualify for Category Two services. Learn more about methods used for entity validation.
Categories of Service
Funding may be requested under two categories of service:
- View a summary of Category One services, which include those services needed to support broadband connectivity to schools.
- View a summary of Category Two services, which include equipment and services for internal connections within schools.
The E-rate discount matrix (PDF) displays the percent of discount for which each school qualifies based on the school's poverty level, urban/rural status, and the category of service. Discounts range from 20 to 90 percent.
- The guidelines and methods available in California used to validate enrollment and poverty.
- The guidelines from USAC to determine alternative discount mechanisms .
- The guidelines from USAC to determine urban/rural status .
Schools and Libraries Division
The USAC Schools and Libraries website is the best starting point to learn about E-rate.
The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the USAC, commonly referred to as E-rate, is responsible for all aspects of administering the E-rate program, including:
- Communication and training of applicants and service providers.
- Managing the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC), which is a portal used to manage the application process.
- Ensuring that the program is implemented according to FCC regulations, which includes reviewing school applications in a process known as Program Integrity Assurance (PIA), establishing invoicing procedures, paying discounts, and conducting school audits.
Subscribe to the weekly Schools and Libraries Program News Brief to stay informed of program changes and deadlines.
The California Department of Education (CDE) provides specific and targeted support for California E-rate applicants, including:
- Applicant support with entity validation (E-rate School Entities, NIFs, and Annexes).
- The California E-rate Support and Resource web page provides a variety of support resources including links to regional training and helpful resources.
- The E-rate News Flash notifies California applicants of general program updates, key deadlines, and helpful California specific information.