Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

Before You Begin

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 a list of ineligible products for each category of service and a glossary of terms. We suggest that you review this list before you prepare your technology plan (if one is required) and before you file an FCC Form 470 to open your competitive bidding process.

Categories of Service

The ESL has five sections listed that fall in one of two funding priorities:

  • Priority 1
    • Telecommunications Services
    • Telecommunications
    • Internet Access
  • Priority 2
    • Internal Connections (eligible products)
    • Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections (repair and upkeep of eligible products)

Priority 1 services are funded first. Because funding for the program is capped, we are generally not able to fund all requests for Priority 2 services. For each funding year, USAC starts issuing commitments for Priority 2 requests at the highest discount level (90 percent) and continues down one discount level at a time (89 percent, 88 percent, and so on) until the remaining funding is insufficient to fund eligible requests at a particular discount level.

Telecommunications Services
This category includes local and long distance wired telephone service; interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), cellular phone service, including text messaging and voicemail; and Centrex service. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Primary Rate Interface (PRI), T-1, T-3, and satellite services are also eligible.

Telecommunications Services must be provided by a telecommunications carrier, a company that offers telecommunications services on a common carriage basis. You can search for SPIN information to verify the telecommunications carrier status of a SPIN.

This category was added in Funding Year (FY) 2011. This section covers lit or dark fiber and certain maintenance and installation costs that are not provided by a telecommunications carrier. Dark fiber is eligible if the applicant lights the dark fiber immediately; however, the costs for purchasing modulating electronics necessary to light the dark fiber are not eligible.

Telecommunications does not appear as a separate section of service on program forms. We suggest that applicants who are considering these services complete both the "Telecommunications Services" and "Internet Access" sections on the FCC Form 470 in order to maximize the number and type of bids they receive. Applicants would then apply for discounts on the FCC Form 471 by selecting "Telecommunications Services," if the fiber is provided by a telecommunications carrier or selecting "Internet Access," if it is not.

Internet Access
This category covers information about discounts for basic conduit access to the Internet, but not on content, equipment purchases, or other services beyond basic conduit access. However, selected services that are an integral component part of an Internet access service and other services designated as eligible by the FCC may be eligible (e.g., interconnected VoIP, email service, and web hosting).

Internal Connections
This category describes eligible products, such as routers, switches, hubs, and wiring. Eligible products are located at the applicant site and must be considered a necessity 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.

Starting with FY2005, under the Two-in-Five Rule, eligible entities can only receive discounts for internal connections in two of every five funding years.

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 (this exception does not apply to software upgrades and patches, including bug fixes and security patches and online and telephone-based technical assistance and tools).

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:

  • A file server may be used both as an email server (an eligible use) and an archive server (an ineligible use).
  • A phone 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 do a cost allocation. There is not a single approved method to allocate eligible and ineligible costs. Your method must use tangible criteria that provide 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 file server is conditionally eligible, based on the tasks being performed. For example, if a server is being used for email, DHCP, or DNS service, the server is eligible. However, if a server is being used for running applications or archiving, the server is ineligible.
  • 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 Priority 1 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 Priority 1 service if it meets specific conditions. We refer to this equipment, if eligible, as on-premise Priority 1 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.