Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

Before You Begin

Updated September 2015

Eligible Services Overview

Each year, before the FCC Form 471 application filing window opens, the FCC releases an Eligible Services List (ESL) for the upcoming funding year. This list contains a description of the products and services that will be eligible for discounts, along with additional helpful information such as eligibility conditions for each category of service for each specified funding year. We suggest that you review this list before you file an FCC Form 470 to open your competitive bidding process so you know which services are eligible for the upcoming year.

Categories of Service

The ESL includes five service types that fall in one of two funding categories:

  • Category One
    • Data Transmission Services and Internet Access
    • Voice Services
  • Category Two
    • Internal Connections
    • Managed Internal Broadband Services
    • Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections
Data Transmission Services and Internet Access

This category covers broadband connectivity and basic conduit access to the Internet. This category does not include charges for content, equipment purchases, or other services beyond basic conduit access to the Internet. This service type also covers lit or dark fiber and, in special circumstances, self-provisioning of dark fiber.

Voice Services

This service type includes local and long distance wired telephone service; interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and cellular phone service (excluding data plans, text messaging and voicemail which are ineligible); and Centrex service. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), T-1, T-3, and satellite services are also eligible.

Voice Services are subject to a voice phasedown of 20 percent each funding year until FY2019 when voice services will no longer be funded. For example, an applicant with a 90 percent discount will receive a discount on voice services of 70 percent in FY2015, 50 percent in FY2016, and so on.

Starting in FY2015, VoIP is only eligible under the Voice Services category.

Internal Connections and Managed Internal Broadband Services

These two service types include eligible products, such as access points, routers, switches, hubs, and wiring. Eligible products are located at the applicant site and must be necessary to transport information to classrooms or publicly accessible areas of a library. Product eligibility does not include services that extend across a public right-of-way beyond the school or library facility.

Services provided by a third party for the operation, management, and monitoring of eligible broadband internal connections components are eligible Managed Internal Broadband Services (e.g., managed Wi-Fi). Program support is limited to eligible expenses or portions of expenses that directly support and are necessary for the broadband connectivity within schools and libraries. Applicants may lease equipment as part of a Managed Internal Broadband Service request.

Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections

This category covers the repair and upkeep of eligible products. Eligible repair and upkeep services include hardware, wire, and cable maintenance, along with basic technical support and configuration changes. The products must be eligible for discounts in order for their associated repair and upkeep services to be eligible.

Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections services must be for actual work performed and parts repaired or replaced. Unbundled warranties or fixed price contracts are not eligible for reimbursement, unless the ineligible portions can be cost-allocated. Software upgrades and patches, including bug fixes and security patches and online and telephone-based technical assistance need not provide evidence of work being performed.

Other Eligibility Issues

Partial Eligibility

If a product or service has both eligible and ineligible uses or components, the eligible portions of the product or service may still be eligible for discounts. We refer to these products or services as partially eligible.

For example, an Internet access service may be delivered to a school run by a church (an eligible location) and to the church office (an ineligible location).

To request discounts on the eligible portion of these products and services, you must perform a cost allocation. There is not a single approved method to allocate eligible and ineligible costs. Your method must use tangible criteria that reach a realistic result.

Conditional Eligibility

Products and services may be eligible under certain conditions. We refer to these products or services as conditionally eligible.

For example:

  • Repair and upkeep services are only eligible if the service is performed on eligible products and services.
  • A UPS is only eligible if it is supporting eligible equipment. To the extent that it supports both eligible and ineligible equipment, a cost allocation to remove support of ineligible equipment is required.
  • The product or service can be eligible for discounts if the appropriate conditions are met.
Ancillary Use

If a product or service contains ineligible features on an ancillary basis that are not offered or priced separately, ancillary use of these ineligible features may not require a cost allocation if they meet certain requirements.

On-premise Category One Equipment

Equipment owned by the service provider but located at the applicant site and leased by the applicant can be eligible for discounts as a Category One service if it meets specific conditions. We refer to this equipment, if eligible, as on-premise Category One equipment.

Wide Area Networks

A wide area network (WAN) is a voice, data, or video network that provides connections from one or more computers or networks within an eligible school or library to one or more computers or networks that are external to such eligible school or library. Under certain conditions, leased WAN services can be eligible for discounts.

Educational Purposes

Services must not only be eligible, but must also be delivered to eligible locations and used for eligible purposes. The customary work activities of school or library employees and customary activities that occur on school or library property are presumed to fall under the definition of educational purposes.