E-Rate Consulting

How to Access
E-Rate RFPs

What is E-Rate?

"E-Rate" is a commonly used term to refer to the U.S. Federal government's "Universal Service" program, which provides substantial discounts on telecommunications, Internet and technology products and services for schools and libraries.

For more details, check out one of our presentations:

Who is Eligible?

All K-12 schools and libraries unless for-profit or with a >$50M endowment. A properly prepared application is good for a minimum 20% discount, even for well-do-to schools. Your discount level is derived from your free/reduced lunch percentage, with 0% free/reduced lunch qualifying for 20% discount, up to a maximum of 90% discount.

How Much Funding can I Request?

There are 2 levels of funding available and different criteria for each level.

1. Category 1 Services -- All telecommunications and Internet access. There is NO upper bound on the funding that may be requested for Category 1 services. Note that support for Voice services are being phased out and will not be eligible after FY2019.
2. Category 2 Services -- Internal Connections (cabling, network equipment) and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections
- Maximum discount level is 85%
- Maximum pre-discount costs that can be discounted is $150/student over a 5-year period.

Applicants must also certify their readiness to pay for their share of costs, plus corresponding ineligible but necessary costs such as proper power for the equipment acquired and staff development for teachers.

How do I Apply?

We describe E-Rate as a process, rather than an event. Some steps are non-trivial and require significant follow-through. The whole process is complex and can be prone to seemingly minor yet irreversible errors, so consider using a consultant. Please be sure that your consultant does not have inappropriate relationships with the service providers bidding on your projects, since that creates a conflict of interest and jeopardizes your funding.

Where I can Learn More?

There are many sources of information about this program on the Internet. The definitive source is the USAC Schools and Libraries web site, which describes E-Rate and provides detailed information and the latest news.

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How Does Learningtech.org Help Schools and Libraries with E-Rate?

Learningtech.org is committed to assisting educational institutions in gaining access to the necessary resources for a modern network infrastructure. Therefore, we assist many of our clients with grant applications including the "E-Rate" program. The E-Rate application process is complex and can be intimidating; hence, many schools do not realize the significant discounts to which they would be entitled under this program. Preparing a proper application requires several months, so we encourage interested schools to start early, preferably engaging our services by early summer for funding to start in the following fiscal year.

During recent years, we have helped our clients qualify for millions of dollars in Federal subsidies for technology and telecommunications through E-Rate, to the benefit of many thousands of students, often in the most impoverished neighborhoods in our communities. Our efforts typically also included the preparation of Technology Plans, which are useful in seeking other sources of funding. We have also broken new ground in working with Charter Management Organizations [CMOs] in obtaining E-Rate funding for new charter schools scheduled to open during the upcoming funding year -- their first year of operation -- when funding is needed most. Our track record for successful applications, as a ratio of funds requested versus funds committed, is extremely high; and we are diligent in ensuring that committed funds are then actually realized, one area where significant funds are often lost by schools, such as by forgetting to submit key forms later in the process.

We have active projects in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Tennessee; we have also done some work in Oregon. We expand our operations thoughtfully, with an emphasis on quality over quantity. We also prepare Technology Plans for schools and non-profit organizations that are not seeking E-Rate funding, along with providing many other services relating to educational technology. We will be pleased to provide detailed client references for both our current and our past E-Rate projects, to seriously interested schools, districts, libraries, and consortia, upon request.

California Applicants are also eligible for CTF

California E-Rate applicants are also eligible for California Teleconnect Fund [CTF], which further discounts eligible services by 50% of the balance after E-Rate. When E-Rate applicants are also eligible for CTF discounts, the E-Rate service provider must use the Service Provider Invoicing [SPI] method to coordinate discounts on applicant bills. To receive CTF discounts, a CTF application must be submitted per site and service providers must be notified of CTF approval. For more info, see: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/Telco/Public+Programs/CTF/.