E-rate (Universal Service for Telecommunications Discounts Program) for Libraries
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- Archived E-Rate Fiber Build Workshop, May 20, 2015, from the FCC
- Got E-Rate? Press Release and Overview from ALA
- E-Rate Modernization Order Information for Schools and Libraries from USAC
- Summary of the Second E-Rate Modernization Order, December 2014
- Summary of the First E-Rate Modernization Order, July 2014
- Reply Comments of the New York State Education Department Regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 13-100)
- See also the original NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING
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 from FY 1999 to FY 2009. Beginning in FY 2010 the funding cap was 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. The First E-Rate Modernization Order (July 2014) set a target of $1 billion dollars to be used for internal connections, such as Wi-Fi. The Second E-Rate Modernization Order (December 2014) increased the funding cap to $3.9 billion, indexed to inflation.
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.
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?
Libraries and library systems submit their application for this program (Forms 470 and 471) directly to the Schools and Library Division (SLD).
What services are eligible for discounts?
Discounts can be applied to all commercially available telecommunications services, Internet connectivity, and internal connections. Beginning in 2015, support for voice services will be phased out. 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) 1-17 (1998-2014)?
For each Program Year (1-17), an average total of 377 libraries and library systems in New York State received an average total of $11 million. The grand total received from the E-Rate Program for all years is over $186 million.
What is the status of Program Year 17 (2014) for libraries and library systems in New York State?
The distribution of funding for Program Year 17 is still underway. To date, as of April 15, 2015, a total of 354 libraries and library systems have received a total of $9.5 million. See the Support E-rate flyer.
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 Amy Heebner, New York State Library, Division of Library Development at (518) 474-4883.
Beginning in funding year 2015, technology plans are no longer required for category two services. Current plans that have been filed with library systems are still in effect. All applicants should retain copies of their technology plans in case of future audits. The FCC now requires that applicants keep all e-rate documentation for 10 years.
- E-Rate Resource Center -- 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 $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 contains information relating to E-Rate, as does their Advocacy page.
- 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.
E-Rate Central's E-Rate News for the Week (e-mail newsletter)
- Subscribe 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)