The E-rate Technology Discount Program

The E-rate (short for education rate) is a nationwide program that offers public and private schools and libraries the opportunity to receive substantial discounts on a wide range of advanced telecommunications services including broadband internet access, distance learning and videoconferencing service, high speed data connections, and internal wiring and wireless network equipment.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has oversight of the program which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the Schools and Library division (SLD). All of the important information for schools is at the SLD website.

EPC Portal for all E-rate Activities: USAC uses an E-rate Productivity Center as a gateway for all E-rate activities for applicants and service providers. All E-rate activities (filing applications, questions, appeals, etc.) will be conducted through this site.

 

NOTICE

 
A Third Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Program Application Filing Window Opens April 28, 2022
Another $1 billion will be awarded under this program that aids students and school staff who need financial assistance to obtain sufficient connectivity to engage in remote learning at home to keep up with schoolwork. You may apply again if you have additional needs – or anew if you have not done so this past summer. The application period closes on May 13, 2022.

The following types of equipment may be purchased for off-campus use: laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems (including air cards), routers and devices that combine a modem and router.

Catholic schools are eligible to apply on behalf of their students but should not be direct recipients of the funds. Contract with the vendors who will use the SPI form to be reimbursed from the USAC administrator. The schools are not required to register in SAM.gov – the vendor registers.

For those interested in learning more about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program ahead of the third application filing window, please visit www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org.

Archangel Education and Technology, an NCEA Ambassador partner, is ready to assist schools with obtaining the technology available through the ECF program for their students and families. Please contact Archangel Education and Technology now to gain assistance.

Archangel Education and Technology
15421 West Dixie Hwy. #11
N. Miami Beach, FL 33162
(866) 747-4486
NCEAECF@arch-te.com
https://arch-te.com

 

E-rate Program Structure

There are two types of eligible services that can be funded:

  1. Data Transmission Services and/or Internet Access (Category 1)
  2. Internal Connections (IC), Managed Internal Broadband Services (MIBS), and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections (BMIC) (Category 2)

The complete list of eligible services is updated annually; 2022 services are here.

Category Discount Levels (portion of the services that are funded by USAC according to the discount matrix):

  • Category One: The highest discount is 90 percent.
  • Category Two: The highest discount level is set 85 percent.

 

Discount Matrices Table for Category One and Category Two

Category One

Discount Level Percentages

Category Two

Discount Level Percentages

% Students eligible for Federal School Lunch Program

Urban

Rural

Urban

Rural

< 1

20

25

20

25

1-19

40

50

40

50

30-34

50

60

50

60

35-49

60

70

60

70

50-74

80

80

80

80

75-100

90

90

85

85

 

How To Calculate Your E-Rate Discount

Each school discount rate is based on two factors:

  1. the percentage of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or other measure of equated income level. The U.S. Department of Agriculture income eligibility tables for the current school year can be found HERE.
  2. the urban or rural status of the location of the school that is automatically calculated on the application by school zip code.

 

E-rate Category Two Budget

The FCC has set a budget of $167.00 per student that may be used over a five-year period for Category two services. There is no budget limit for Category One.

The pre-discount budget for a school is calculated by multiplying the total number of students at the school by $167, with a minimum of $9,200 if the school has fewer than 62 students. Caveat: the budget is pre-discount; applicants receive only the calculated discounted level of the total.

Applicants can utilize the pre-discount budget in a manner that best meets their needs. Applicants can apply to use all of it in one spread it out over 5 years or any other combination up to the total.

 

E-Rate Application Process

Before you begin, this application flow chart is a good over-view resource to consult.

The application process has several steps to follow and forms to complete in order to successfully apply for and receive E-rate discounts. These steps include:

  • opening the competitive process: Form 470
  • seeking discounts on eligible services: Form 471
  • invoicing for services: Form 474*
  • confirming the receipt of services and compliance with Internet Safety requirements: Form 486

*Billing information for Catholic schools

Originally, E-rate has provided discounts to schools and libraries through their telecom providers and these providers are then reimbursed for the discounted services by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC). Because of the administrative structure of the program, E-rate was not considered a federal program since it was not funded from taxpayer money placed in the federal treasury.

Beginning in May 2018, the FCC ordered all USF funds to be transferred from a private bank into the U.S. Treasury. The question remains as to whether this action makes E-rate a federal program and schools who receive discounts recipients of federal funds.

This is a significant concern for Catholic and other private schools since the direct recipient of federal funds must comply fully with federal law and regulations under Title IX, Section 504 and others that non-recipient status allows for limited exemptions and modifications that would otherwise burden those private schools.

Without greater clarity Catholic school applicants should not use Form 472, the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) method of payment, which would provide the schools with a check from the U.S. Treasury. Instead, schools should use Form 474, the Service Provider Invoice Form (SPI) and insist that the vendor claim the discounted portion from USAC directly. This would constitute receipt of goods and services, not direct funding, similar to how schools participate in federal education programs under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The school, not the vendor, has the right to determine how the vendor will receive the discounted funds.

 

Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) Requirements

When schools certify their compliance with CIPA, they will also be required to certify that their internet safety policies have been updated to provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, cyber bullying awareness, and response.

School and library authorities must certify either that they have complied with the requirements of CIPA; that they are undertaking actions, including any necessary procurement procedures, to comply with the requirements of CIPA; or that CIPA does not apply to them because they are receiving discounts for telecommunications services only.

Detailed information about CIPA compliance may be found at the Schools and Libraries division of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

 

Documentation

Applicants and service providers will be required to file all documents with USAC electronically. USAC will be required to provide all notifications electronically. USAC will phase in this requirement over the next three funding years.

The document retention period will be extended from five to 10 years after the latter of the last day of the applicable funding year, or the service delivery deadline for the funding request. This revised document retention period rule is subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act and will become effective upon announcement in the Federal Register of approval by the Office of Management and Budget.

 

Resources

The official and most comprehensive site for program information is that of the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC) that administers the program for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). You can find additional program guidance documents, tools and FAQs at that website.