Research and Education

E-rate Discounts for Schools, Libraries and Rural Healthcare Entities

What is E-Rate?

The Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly known as "E-Rate," is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  It provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States in obtaining affordable telecommunications and Internet access.

Funding can be requested under five categories of service: telecommunications, telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections and basic maintenance of internal connections.

The amount of the discount allowed depends on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served and ranges from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services. Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.  USAC works in conjunction with service providers, such as Level 3 Communications, to make sure these discounts are passed on to program participants.

For more information, see USAC’s website or contact Level 3 Communications’ E-Rate specialists, Mark Wilcop (Sales) and Amy Ban (Billing). 

What are the Eligibility Requirements for E-Rate?

In general, schools are eligible if they meet the following requirements:

  • They provide elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.
  • They may be public or private institutional day or residential schools or public charter schools.
  • They must operate as non-profit schools.
  • They cannot operate as for-profit businesses or have an endowment exceeding $50 million.

In general, libraries are eligible if they meet the following requirements:

  • They must meet the statutory definition of library or library consortium found in the 1996 Library Services and Technology Act (Pub. L. 104-208) (LSTA).
  • They must be eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under that Act.
  • They must have budgets completely separate from any schools (including, but not limited to, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities).
  • They cannot operate as for-profit businesses.

For more information, see USAC’s website.

What is the Discount Level for E-Rate Funded Entities?

The primary measure for determining school and library support discounts is the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) calculated by individual schools or an equivalent measure of poverty, and the rural or urban location of the school or library.

A school district applicant determines its shared discount by calculating a weighted average of the discounts of all individual schools in the school district.

Library branches or outlets must obtain and use the NSLP data for the public school district in which they are located to calculate the discount.  A library system applicant determines the appropriate shared discount by calculating an average of the discounts of all library branches or outlets included in the system.

For more information on calculating the level of discount, see USAC's website

What Services are Eligible for E-Rate discounts?

Four categories of eligible services have been established by the FCC:

  • Telecommunications
  • Telecommunications Services
  • Internet Access
  • Certain Internal Connections
  • Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections

For a list of eligible services, see USAC’s website

How is E-Rate Funding Obtained?

Schools and libraries apply for these discounts directly through USAC, which works in conjunction with service providers to make sure these discounts are passed onto program participants.  See USAC's website.  This website has a step-by-step overview of the process and an on-line application

After the funding decision has been reached by USAC, the service provider, as well as the applicant, will receive a notification of funding commitments.

The applicant must notify the service provider of how they would like to receive their funding: via a recurring discount on their monthly bill or a reimbursement check.  Special E-Rate language addressing the billing/discount option selection should be included in the contract.

What is the Rural Health Care Program (RHCP)?

This program is administered by USAC to provide reduced rates to rural health care providers (HCPs) for telecommunications services and Internet access charges related to the use of telemedicine and wellness.

The level of support depends on the location and the type of services chosen and is calculated individually for each health care provider. A health care provider can save on services it already has, upgrade current services or install new services.

For details on the process, visit USAC's website. There you will also find forms. You can also contact Level 3 Communications's RHCP specialists, Mark Wilcop (Sales) and Amy Ban (Billing). 

What is the California Teleconnect Fund (CTF)?

The California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) Program was established to provide a 50 percent discount on selected telecommunications services to qualifying schools, libraries, government-owned and operated hospitals and health clinics, and community based organizations. For schools and libraries, the 50 percent discount is applied after their E-Rate funding.

The following organizations located in California are eligible for these discounts:

  • Public or nonprofit schools that provide elementary or secondary education and have endowments of under $50 million.
  • Libraries eligible to participate in state-based plans for funds under Title III of the Library Services and Technology Act.
  • Hospitals and health clinics owned and operated by a municipal or county government or a hospital district.
  • Community Based Organizations (CBOs) with total revenues under $50 million that offer health care, job training, job placement, educational instruction, or 2-1-1 referral services.
  • CBOs offering access to and training in the Internet and other technologies
  • Community Colleges

The eligible entity may apply for the discounts with CTF by filling out the Service Discounts Certification Application. CTF reviews the application and notifies the applicants of the status of their application. Upon approval, a letter is sent to the applicant and the applicant must notify the service provider. The service provider will then set up a recurring monthly discount on the eligible entity’s bill.  Any customers receiving CTF funding must elect the net billing option.  The CTF discount is calculated after all other discounts have been applied for the eligible services, per CTF guidelines.

For more information, forms and processes, please check the California Public Utilities Commission website or contact Level 3’s CTF specialists, Mark Wilcop (Sales) and Amy Ban (Billing).