Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

Step 3 Applying for Discounts

Urban/Rural Status

Updated September 2015

 

Starting with FY2015, the FCC updated the definition of "rural” and the manner in which schools and libraries determine their urban or rural status. An individual school and library will be designated as "urban" if located in an "Urbanized Area" or "Urban Cluster" with a population of 25,000 or more as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Any school or library not designated "urban" will be designated as "rural" and would be eligible to receive an additional discount.

Urban/rural status for an individual school or library:

USAC will compare the address of record for a school or library to the U.S. Census data to determine if the school or library is in an area that is considered urban or rural. USAC's database will then be updated to reflect the appropriate status, as follows:

  • "U" if the school or library is considered urban
  • "R" if the school or library is considered rural
  • "?" if the status cannot be determined – for example, if the school or library does not exist in our database or the address information for the school or library is incorrect or incomplete

The Urban/Rural Lookup Tool is designed to help applicants determine their urban or rural status. The tool and instructions on how to use it are available on the Search Tools page.

Urban/rural discount for a school district or library system:

If more than 50 percent of the schools in a school district or libraries in a library system are considered rural, the school district or library system is eligible for a rural discount. If 50 percent or less of the entities are considered rural, the school district or library system is eligible for an urban discount.

For individual schools:
  • An individual school must use the discount calculated for its school district, even if the individual school applies for E-rate Program funding on its own. For example, even if an individual school is considered rural, it must use the urban discount calculated for its school district if its school district is eligible for an urban discount.
  • However, an independent school – a school that does not share a common board with other schools and is individually responsible for its finances and administration – uses only its student population numbers to determine the level of poverty and the urban or rural status of its physical location for its discount calculation.
For school districts:
  • Non-instructional facilities (NIFs) – including NIFs with classrooms – do not have an urban or rural status and do not count toward the urban or rural determination for the school district.
  • If there are charter schools that are part of the school district, they count toward the urban or rural determination for the school district.
  • If a school has several locations not on the same campus – and therefore several different entity numbers – but is considered to be a single school by the state, only the main location counts toward the urban or rural determination for the school district.
  • If a school is considered to be a school by the state but it does not serve as the home school for any students – for example, a vocational education school – it counts toward the urban or rural determination for the school district.
  • A group of schools that acts as a school district – for example, diocesan schools that share a common board and are not individually responsible for finances and administration – may file as a school district and determine the "school district" eligibility as described above for an urban or rural discount.
For individual library outlets/branches:
  • An individual library outlet/branch must use the discount calculated for its library system, even if the individual library outlet/branch applies for funding on its own. For example, even if an individual library outlet/branch is considered rural, it must use the urban discount calculated for its library system if the library system is eligible for an urban discount.
  • However, an independent library – a library that does not share a common board with other libraries and is individually responsible for its finances and administration – uses only the level of poverty from the public school district in which it is physically located and the urban or rural status of its physical location for its discount calculation.
For library systems:
  • NIFs do not have an urban or rural status and do not count toward the urban or rural determination for the library system.
  • Bookmobiles and kiosks can be considered library outlets/branches and counted toward the urban or rural determination for the library system. USAC will use the address in its database for the bookmobile or kiosk to determine its urban or rural status.
For consortia and statewide applications:
  • Consortia and statewide applicants do not have an urban or rural status. Each entity that is a member of the consortium or statewide application calculates its discount using the appropriate level of poverty and urban or rural determination as described above.