Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

Before You Begin

State Matching Provision

In the Second E-rate Modernization Order, the FCC adopted rules providing additional Category One funding to match state funding for special construction to connect schools and libraries to high-speed broadband services that meet the FCC’s long-term capacity broadband goals. The E-rate Program will increase an applicant’s discount rate for special construction charges up to an additional 10% to match state funding on a one-to-one dollar basis. For schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education or Tribal governments and libraries operated by Tribal governments, the one-to-one dollar match of up to 10% will be available for funding received for special construction costs from states, Tribal governments, or other federal agencies.

Example

For example, a 70% discount school district applies for E-rate Program funding for special construction charges associated with self-provisioned fiber that costs $100,000. The state provides funding for 10% of the special construction costs. The E-rate Program will match that state funding, effectively adding 10% to the school's current E-rate Program discount.

The result is that the out-of-pocket cost for the school district is reduced to $10,000, because the state is providing $10,000 (10%) and the E-rate program is providing $80,000 (70% + 10%). However, the E-rate Program will only match state funding up to 100% of the special construction project cost. So, for the scenario described above, if the state provided 25% of the funding for broadband special construction, the E-rate Program would cap its additional funding to 5% (25% + 70% +5% = 100%).

Eligible State Funding

To be eligible for matching funds, the funding must come from the state or, for the Tribal match, from a state, Tribal government, or federal agency. The state match will only be available for E-rate Program eligible special construction costs for high-speed broadband that meets the capacity targets adopted in the E-rate Modernization Order and cannot be applied to any other cost.

USAC will verify that the funds are from an eligible source, cover the funding year in question, and do not conflict with E-rate Program competitive bidding rules. In addition, applicants should create separate funding requests on their FCC Form 471 application for special construction and recurring costs because the state funding match is limited to special construction costs.

States with Eligible Funding

Based on the information we have received about the following state broadband programs, we believe that funding from the programs identified below would qualify as matching funds for purposes of increasing funding an applicant is eligible to receive from the E-rate Program for special construction of services that meet the FCC's long term connectivity targets. If you are aware of any other state, Tribal, or federal program that provides funding for broadband special construction charges that is not included below please contact USAC to provide further information about the program.

  1. California Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant (BIIG) Program. In June 2014, the California State Legislature allocated $26,689,000 in one-time funding to enhance broadband infrastructure for California's public schools. The legislature directed the California K-12 High Speed Network (K12HSN) to distribute network connectivity infrastructure grants and produce a report on statewide connectivity infrastructure. Note: applicants must join the state network, Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, or CENIC, which applies for E-rate Program funding on behalf of K12HSN.

    For additional information about the BIIG program, visit the K12HSN Broadband Grant website, which includes FAQs, past webinars, and fact sheets. The source of the funding for this program can be found by reviewing the state legislative information.

  2. Massachusetts Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grant. The Massachusetts Information Technology and Innovation Act of 2014 allocated $38 million in bond-funded matching funds to enhance K-12 infrastructure within the state. In October 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Education (MA DOE) began accepting applications for the Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grant, releasing the first $5 million of the matching funds.

    The Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grant is a competitive, matching state grant program to bridge the digital divide that exists in some schools across the Commonwealth and strengthen twenty-first century teaching and learning. The state match provides funding for infrastructure (Wi-Fi and broadband); the local match may be used to fund any combination of infrastructure, devices for students and educators, professional development, and assistive technology.

    Of the $38 million in state bond appropriated by the legislature in August 2014, $5 million has been authorized for use in the first phase of the program by the Governor's Office for projects in FY2015-16.  The program allocated $2 million for suburban schools, $2 million for urban schools, and $1 million for rural schools, with money disbursed over two years. The projects will positively impact 24,981 students and 1,865 educators in 47 schools. Communities will match this investment with approximately $3.59 million from local, private, and federal funding streams. School districts receiving the grants were expected to fund (from either a public or private source) between 30-70% of the total project, and were required to apply for E-rate funding.  While district funds could be used to purchase devices, state grants had to be used to provide broadband and/or wireless Internet to schools.

    For additional information on the Digital Connections Partnership School Grants, visit the Office of Digital Learning's Digital Connections information and resource page, which includes an application timeline, a webinar for applicants, FAQs, and the scorecard used to assess grant applicants. The source of the funding for this program can be found by reviewing the state legislative information.

  3. Maine Telecommunications Education Access Fund (MTEAF). The MTEAF, a state universal services fund managed by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, funds telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, computer, training, and content for K-12 schools and public libraries. The MTEAF funds the Maine School and Library Network (MSLN), a statewide network that serves public and private K-12 schools, public libraries, and some higher education libraries. The combined funding from the MTEAF, E-rate Program, and a nominal $1 per pupil per year from member K-12 schools provides broadband, related management, and support services to Maine's K-12 schools and public libraries. Currently, the network and all contracting and budget management is done through Networkmaine, a unit of the University of Maine System (UMS).

    For additional information about the MTEAF program, visit the Networkmaine website. The source of the funding for this program can be found by reviewing the state legislative information.

  4. New York State Smart Schools Bond Act. In his 2014 State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo called for New York State to invest $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act – an initiative that would finance educational technology and infrastructure, and provide access to the latest technology and connectivity needed to succeed and compete in the global economy. New Yorker's approved the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) in November 2014. The Smart Schools Commission released a final report in Fall 2014 outlining how school districts could invest the money allocated to each district.

    Under the proposal, school districts could use bond revenues to purchase educational technology equipment, including high-speed broadband or wireless Internet, construct and modernize facilities to replace classroom trailers, and install high-tech security features in school buildings. School districts were eligible for the same percentage of the bond revenue that they received in formula school aid in 2013-2014. To receive funds, districts have to submit a “Smart Schools Investment Plan” outlining their use of funds. The Bond Act established a Smart Schools Review Board to review and approve investment plans.

    For additional information on the Smart Schools Bond Initiative and a copy of the legislation, visit the Smart Schools homepage. To review the Smart Schools Bond Act guidance for school districts, visit New York's Educational Management Services Smart Schools page. The source of the funding for this program can be found by reviewing the state legislative information.

  5. North Carolina School Connectivity Fund. The North Carolina State Board of Education approved the School Connectivity Initiative (SCI) Implementation and Operating Plan on Thursday, August 2, 2007. Within the SCI program are five individual projects addressing Connectivity, Core Services, Collaboration, Organization, and Funding. The SCI supports the enhancement of the technology infrastructure for public schools. These funds will be used for broadband access, equipment, and support services that create, improve, and sustain equity of access for instructional opportunities for public school students and educators. The SCI program is a recurring appropriation and continues today. The appropriation amount for the SCI program increased in FY 2016-2017 to $34,000,000 annually from approximately $23,000,000. The source of the funding for this program can be found by reviewing the state legislative information.
  6. New Mexico School Connectivity Broadband Deficiencies Fund. In New Mexico, “the Public School Capital Outlay Council (PSCOC) is authorized to expend up to $10.0 million annually from FY14 through FY19 for an education technology infrastructure deficiency correction initiative.

    The source of the funding for this program can be found by reviewing the LESC staff report and state legislation.