In 2014, the federal government approved a $1.5-billion-dollar E-Rate funding program after years of stale funding. The E-Rate program provides schools in underfunded and disadvantaged communities with improved technology, access to systems and internet. The new funding measure raised the funding cap to $3.9 billion per year, which had previously remained the same for nearly 20 years.
What is E-Rate?
E-Rate refers to The Schools and Libraries program in the U.S. The program provided schools and libraries with the opportunity to access more affordable telecommunications and information services when it was first implemented in the mid-90s. The program is funded by the Universal Service Fund to provided reduced rates on internet access and telecommunications to establish innovative learning strategies and digital technologies in schools and libraries.
Which Schools Are Eligible?
Schools are required to meet certain eligibility standards. Schools must be an elementary or secondary school that meets the definition outlined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. If a library applies for funding, the library must be defined in accordance with definition in the 1996 Library Services and Technology Act. The library must be eligible to receive assistance from its state library administrative agency.
Benefits of E-Rate
Schools and libraries in underserved areas will benefit from the program if they qualify. Benefits of the E-Rate funding boost include:
- Schools and libraries can sign up for funding online, which makes the process easier and spells out the needs and requirements of the funding.
- Allows schools and libraries to find vendors who provide them with the best discounts and services.
- Allows schools and libraries to modernize their technology and internet connections, or establish internet in a school or library altogether. Schools and libraries can shift from legacy services and unreliable connections to broadband and WiFi services. WiFi expands reliable internet access to millions of school children nationwide.
- Funding for the E-Rate program comes from telecommunications service and internet providers. Consumers will notice the charge on their bills, listed as “Universal Service.” Telecommunication service providers include telephone companies, VoIP providers, fiber-optic phone service provers, and wireless phone providers.
- Schools and libraries receive discounts on either telecommunications, telecommunications services or internet, which are considered category services, and either internal connections, broadband services and maintenance services, which are considered category two services.
- Schools and libraries in impoverished areas and rural areas can receive up to 20% to 90% to access services and technologies. Discounts can be higher in some areas.
Tips for Applying for E-Rate
If you are a school or library administrator who wishes to apply for E-Rate funding, consider the following tips to make the process easier.
- Apply online, but understand the parameters and eligibility requirements before you start the application.
- Utilize resources and contacts to help you apply and to move through the process.
- Know all the expectations and the deadlines.
- Use the most current versions of each form and read all of the for certifications.
- After you submit, be diligent and check the progress often.
If you are a school or library interested in E-Rate funding, contact Teknique. Teknique is an approved provider that will help your school or library save up to 90% on internet and technology services.