E-rate (Universal Service for Telecommunications Discounts Program) for Libraries

Program Information | Technology Plans | Contacts | Related Links | Support E-rate flyer | NY-ERATE discussion list

Invitation to E-rate Program Webinars (from USAC) external link

E-Rate Webinar December 15, 2014: view the webinar video icon (75 min.) external link |

E-Rate Webinar, December 15, 2014 external link opens in a new window from NYSED on Vimeo. (Length: 1:41:49)

E-Rate Webinar December 13, 2013: view the webinar video icon (75 min.) external link | see slides from the Webinar in .PDF (pdf icon 319k )

E-Rate Webinar December 19, 2012: view the webinar video icon (75 min.) external link | see slides from the Webinar in .PDF (pdf icon 319k )

Summary of the Second E-Rate Modernization Order, December 2014external link

Summary of the First E-Rate Modernization Order, July 2014external link

Reply Comments of the New York State Education Department Regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 13-100) external link

[See also the original NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING external link]

Summary of Key Changes to the E-rate Program in the Sixth Report and Order; January 21, 2011

Fact Sheet containing the information on this page, in .PDF format (pdf icon 50k )

* Information for New York schools *

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Program Information

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 1998-99 was $1.9 billion, but the full $2.25 billion has been authorized each year beginning with 1999-2000. Beginning in FY 2010 the funding cap will be 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.

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.

Overview of Schools & Libraries Website for USAC (pdf icon .PDF only; 1.2 Meg)

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?

Applicants are required to develop a technology plan to ensure that the library or library system has the ability to use the services once purchased. Beginning with FY2011, technology plans are required only for Priority 2 services (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections). Technology plans are approved by the State Education Department, New York State Library, Division of Library Development for the following types of libraries:

  • public library systems and reference and research library resources systems;
  • public and association libraries;*
  • not-for-profit special libraries;*

* Plans for member libraries are certified by their library systems before being approved by the State Library.

Technology plans for public and nonpublic school library centers and school library systems are approved by the State Education Department, Office of Technology Planning. Current technology plans cover the three-year period 2010-2013. (New plans will cover July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2016.)

Libraries and library systems submit their application for this program (Forms 470 and 471) directly to the Schools and Library Division (SLD).

Schools & Libraries (E-Rate) Process for applicants flowchart (pdf icon .PDF only; 69k)

What services are eligible for discounts?

Discounts can be applied to all commercially available telecommunications services, Internet connectivity, and internal connections.

What is the level of discounts?

Discounts range from 20 percent to 90 percent, depending on economic need and location (urban or rural). The level of discounts for libraries is based on the percentage of student enrollment that is eligible for the national school lunch program 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) 1-16 (1998-2013)?

For each Program Year (1-16), an average total of 378 libraries and library systems in New York State, with a yearly average of $11.1 million, received a grand total of over $177 million from the E-Rate Program.

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 October 9, 2014, a total of 354 libraries and library systems have received a total of $9.5 million. It is expected that additional libraries and library systems will receive discounts for PY 17.

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.

Technology Plans


New York State Library: Amy Heebner, (518) 474-4883
E-Rate Central: Winston Himsworth (516) 801-7801
Schools and Libraries Division: Submit a question

Related Links

Other E-Rate Web sites

"Filtering Bill" Web sites

E-Rate Central's E-Rate News for the Week (e-mail newsletter)

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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.

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Last Updated: January 28, 2015 ; for questions or comments contact Amy Heebner