E-rate (Universal Service for Telecommunications Discounts Program) for Libraries
What is the E-rate (Universal Service) Program?
On May 7, 1997, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Universal Service Order implementing the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Order, commonly referred to as "E-rate" (Education Rate) ensures that all eligible schools and libraries have affordable access to modern telecommunications and information services. Up to $2.25 billion annually was authorized initially to provide eligible schools and libraries with E-rate discounts. The amount actually allocated by Congress for 1998-99 was $1.9 billion, but the full $2.25 billion has been authorized each year beginning with 1999-2000. Beginning in FY 2010 the funding cap will be indexed for inflation based on the Domestic Product chain-type price index that the FCC already uses for other purposes. During times of zero inflation or deflation, the funding cap will remain the same as the previous year.
What agency administers the E-rate Program?
In January 1999, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) - which is the overall administrator of Universal Service Fund collection and distribution - merged with the Schools and Libraries Corporation (SLC) and the Rural Health Care Corporation (RHCC). As a result of this merger, USAC created several divisions. The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) is responsible for administering the E-rate program for libraries and schools.
Overview of Schools & Libraries Website for USAC ( .PDF only; 1.2 Meg)
What types of libraries and library systems in New York State are eligible for discounts?
The following are eligible to apply for discounts:
- public and association libraries (if they are members of a public library system);
- not-for-profit special libraries (if they are members of a reference and research library resources system;
- public library systems and reference and research library resources systems.
The following are also eligible for E-rate discounts as part of their school district, nonpublic school, BOCES, or Big 5 City Board of Education application:
- public school library centers;
- nonpublic school library centers;
- school library systems.
What is the application process for eligible libraries and library systems in New York State?
Applicants are required to develop a technology plan to ensure that the library or library system has the ability to use the services once purchased. Beginning with FY2011, technology plans are required only for Priority 2 services (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections). Technology plans are approved by the State Education Department, New York State Library, Division of Library Development for the following types of libraries:
- public library systems and reference and research library resources systems;
- public and association libraries;*
- not-for-profit special libraries;*
* Plans for member libraries are certified by their library systems before being approved by the State Library.
Technology plans for public and nonpublic school library centers and school library systems are approved by the State Education Department, Office of Technology Planning. Current technology plans cover the three-year period 2010-2013. (New plans will cover July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2016.)
Libraries and library systems submit their application for this program (Forms 470 and 471) directly to the Schools and Library Division (SLD).
Schools & Libraries (E-Rate) Process for applicants flowchart ( .PDF only; 69k)
What services are eligible for discounts?
Discounts can be applied to all commercially available telecommunications services, Internet connectivity, and internal connections.
What is the level of discounts?
Discounts range from 20 percent to 90 percent, depending on economic need and location (urban or rural). The level of discounts for libraries is based on the percentage of student enrollment that is eligible for the national school lunch program in the public school district in which the library is located.
How many libraries and library systems in New York State received E-rate discounts for Program Years (PY) 1-14 (1998-2011)?
For each Program Year (1-14), an average total of 372 libraries and library systems in New York State, with a yearly average of $11.5 million, received a grand total of over $161 million from the E-Rate Program.
What is the status of Program Year 15 (2012) for libraries and library systems in New York State?
The distribution of funding for Program Year 15 is still underway. To date, as of September 13, 2012, a total of 337 libraries and library systems have received a total of almost $3.6 million. It is expected that additional libraries and library systems will receive discounts for PY 15.
How can I obtain more information?
You can get further information by contacting your library system. For additional information, see the links below to both the SLD and E-Rate Central web sites. You can also contact Lisa Areford, New York State Library, Division of Library Development at (518) 473-6941.
- The FCC's Sixth Report and Order, issued in 2010, made some changes to technology plan rules. Please see Summary of Key Changes to the E-rate Program in the Sixth Report and Order, January 21, 2011
- Memorandum from State Library, updated November 9, 2012, Re: New 2013-2016 E-Rate Technology Plans Due December 28, 2012
- Memorandum from State Library, October 1, 2009, Re: New 2010-2013 E-Rate Technology Plans Due March 30, 2010
- Memorandum from State Library, November 27, 2006, Re: 2007-2010 Technology Plans
- Memorandum from State Library, December 11, 2003
- Certification of Approval of Member Library Technology Plans; also in Word and .PDF versions
- Certification for Not Filing an E-Rate Technology Plan; also in Word and .PDF versions
- Process for Approval of Library and Library System Technology Plans
- E-Rate Central -- Dedicated to simplifying the E-Rate filing process for New York State Schools, Libraries, and vendors. Sponsored by the New York State Education Department.
- The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) provides affordable access to Telecommunications services for all eligible schools and libraries in the United States. Funded at up to $2.25 billion annually, the Program Provides discounts on telecommunications services, internet access and internal connections.
- The American Library Association's (ALA) Office of Information Technology Policy page may contain information relating to E-Rate.
- The New York State Education Department is committed to assisting all schools and libraries within New York State to take maximum advantage of the significant discounts offered by the E-Rate program. Information for New York schools.
Other E-Rate Web sites
- The Education and Libraries Networks coalition (EdLiNC) was formed to represent the view point of schools and libraries in the FCC proceedings dealing with the implementation of the Tele-Communications Act of 1996. The coalition seeks to expand the use of educational technologies in schools and libraries by making sure that these entities are given the affordable rate which is guaranteed to them in Universal Service Provisions of the Act.
- The FCC's informal education page.
- The National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) plays an important role in administering the FCC's access charge plan.
"Filtering Bill" Web sites
- Legislative Information on the Internet. At this web site, you can search for the original text of the McCain/Hollings Bill (S.97, 106th Congress; search here ), also known as the "Children's Internet Protection Act."
- American Library Association, Washington Office: Legislative Action Center.
Disclaimer: This newsletter may contain unofficial information on prospective E-rate developments and/or may reflect E-Rate Central's own interpretations of E-rate practices and regulations. Such information is provided for planning and guidance purposes only. It is not meant, in any way, to supplant official announcements and instructions provided by either the SLD or the FCC.