E-rate (Universal Service for Telecommunications Discounts Program) for Libraries
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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 FY 1998 was $1.9 billion, but the full $2.25 billion was authorized each year beginning with 1999-2000. As of FY 2020, the annual cap for both category one and category two service is $4.15 billion, indexed to inflation. 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). The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of USAC is responsible for administering the E-rate program for libraries and schools.
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 ("3R's");
- public library systems and reference and research library resources systems ("3R's").
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 libraries;
- nonpublic school libraries;
- school library systems.
What is the application process for eligible libraries and library systems in New York State?
Libraries and library systems submit their application for this program (Forms 470 and 471) directly to the Schools and Library Division (SLD) through the online portal. Visit the revised USAC website, or navigate directly to the EPC.
What services are eligible for discounts?
Discounts can be applied to all commercially available telecommunications services, Internet connectivity, and internal connections. Beginning in 2019, support for voice services is no longer an option. Support for broadband services and Category 2 services will be increased.
What is the level of discounts?
Discounts range from 20 percent to 90 percent, depending on economic need, location (urban or rural), and category of services. The level of discounts for libraries is based on the percentage of student enrollment that is eligible for the National School Lunch Program or Community Eligibility Provision 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) 1-23 (1998-2020)?
For each Program Year (1-23), libraries and library systems in New York State received an average total of $10.81 million. The grand total received from the E-Rate Program for all years is over $223 million.
How can I obtain more information?
You can get further information by contacting your library system. For additional information, see the E-Rate Central web site. You can also contact Lauren Cardinal, New York State Library, Division of Library Development at 518-474-1479.
- E-Rate Resource Center is dedicated to simplifying the E-Rate filing process for New York State Schools, Libraries, and vendors. Sponsored by the New York State Education Department and provided by E-Rate Central.
- 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 $3.9 billion annually, the Program Provides discounts on telecommunications services, internet access and internal connections.
- 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.
- 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.
CIPA ("Filtering Bill") Web Sites
E-Rate Central's E-Rate News for the Week (e-mail newsletter)
- Read the 'News of the Week' issues online or subscribe to the newsletter.
- 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.
USAC’s Schools and Libraries News Brief (weekly e-mail newsletter)
- Read the Weekly SL News Briefs online or subscribe to the newsletter.
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