Adopting District-wide Discount Rates
- The Order requires each school district to calculate and use a single district-wide discount rate rather than calculating and using building-by-building discount rates. All public schools and libraries within that public school district will receive the same discount rate.
- Independent charter schools, private schools, and other eligible educational facilities must calculate their discounts separately if not affiliated financially or operationally with a school district. Those independent charter schools, private schools, and other eligible educational facilities that are seeking support for more than one school building should factor all students in facilities under the control of their central administrative agency into the discount calculation.
- Consortia applications will continue to use a simple average of all members’ discounts to calculate the overall consortium discount, but will now be required to use each member’s district-wide discount.
Updating the Definition of “Rural”
The Order adopts the U.S. Census Bureau (Census) definitions of rural and urban for the purpose of determining whether an E-rate applicant qualifies for an additional rural discount. The Census definition classifies a particular location as “urban” based on population density and geography, and other criteria involving non-residential development, while “rural” encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area. Beginning with funding year 2015, schools and libraries located in rural areas, as defined by the most recent decennial Census, will be considered rural for the purposes of the E-rate program.
For an individual school, the rural/urban classification can be determined by its mailing address using the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder. The rural/urban classification for a district with schools in each category will be determined by the location of the majority of its schools.
You can also use USAC's Urban/Rural Lookup Tool.
NSLP Community Eligibility Provision
- The Order allows schools and school districts participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP to use the same approach for determining their E-rate discount as they use for determining their NSLP reimbursement rate. Specifically, schools utilizing the CEP shall calculate their student eligibility for free or reduced priced lunches by multiplying the percentage of directly certified students by the CEP national multiplier (currently 1.6x).
- Modifying the Requirement for Using School-Wide Income Surveys To the extent a school or school district seeks to use a survey rather than NSLP data to determine its discount rate, the Order requires them to base their E-rate discount only on the surveys they actually collect beginning with funding year 2015. For example, a school with 100 students that collects 60 surveys showing that 52 students meet the eligibility criteria for the free and reduced lunch program would be considered to have a 52 percent eligibility percentage. The Order makes clear that E-rate participants may continue using NSLP data in lieu of school-wide income surveys.