EducationSuperHighway will work with you to determine bandwidth requirements, create your RFP, socialize your 470/RFP to local and national vendors, and support your bid evaluation process as a neutral third-party. However, your Erate paperwork needs to be officially filed and certified by you and/or your Erate consultant through USAC’s EPC portal.
E-rate is not a grant. It is an annual application process for disbursement through the Universal Service Fund. There are no yearly reporting requirements. However, all services and equipment requested under the E-rate program must be utilized by the applicant to meet program requirements. All E-rate documentation must be kept for ten (10) years from the last date of service.
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.
Category One Services covers a percentage of Telecommunications Services, Telecommunications, and Internet Access
- Digital transmission services provide transmission from an eligible school or library facility to other locations beyond the school or library. Such services generally refer to data links that connect multiple points using any available technology.
- Lit or dark fiber, provided by any entity, including a non-telecommunications carrier, is eligible. Dark fiber is eligible as long as applicants light the fiber immediately.
- Interconnected Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP); however, this service will be phased out in the future.
- Internet access – Support in this funding category is generally only available for basic conduit access to the Internet but is not available for content, equipment purchased by applicants, and services beyond basic conduit access to the Internet.
- Telephone service. However, in FY 2015, E-rate support will not be available for paging, email, web hosting, voice mail, directory assistance, text messaging, custom calling features, direct inward dialing (DID), 900/976 call blocking, and inside wire maintenance plans.
Category Two Services will only cover a percentage of broadband distribution services and equipment. Three groups of services eligible for category two support: internal connections, basic maintenance, and managed internal broadband services (more commonly described as managed Wi-Fi).
- Support is therefore limited to routers, switches, wireless access points, internal cabling, racks, wireless controller systems, firewall services, uninterruptable power supply, and the software supporting each of these components used to distribute high-speed broadband throughout schools and libraries.
- For funding years 2015 and 2016, basic maintenance services and managed Wi-Fi are eligible for category two support.
E-rate has an annual application process. In short, the E-rate year runs from July 1 – June 30. Each fall, applicants post a Form 470, followed by a 28-day competitive bidding period, then followed by a submission of Form 471 during the winter E-rate filing window, and a Form 486 after receiving a Funding Commitment Decision Letter.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has regulatory authority over the program under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The FCC has appointed the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to administer the program. Within USAC, the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) manages the day-to-day operations of the program.
The National Education Rate Program (“E-rate Program”) is part of the Universal Service Fund, as established by the 1996 Telecommunications Act. It provides discounts on telecommunications, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections to eligible entities that complete an annual application process.