Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

FY2018 Application Filing Window Closes at 11:59 PM EDT March 22
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Step 3 Applying for Discounts

Urban or Rural Status

Updated January 2018

 

The definition of "rural” and the manner in which schools and libraries determine their urban or rural status changed in Funding Year 2015. An individual school or library is 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."

Note: Applicants can use the Urban/Rural Lookup Tool to help determine their urban or rural status. The tool and instructions on how to use it are available on the Tools page.

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
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 fewer of the entities are considered rural, the school district or library system is eligible for an urban discount.

Individual schools
  • An individual school that is part of a school district must use the discount calculated for its school district, even if the individual school applies for Schools and Libraries (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 not affiliated financially or operationally with a school district - 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.
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, the charter schools 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.
Individual library branches (outlets)
  • An individual library branch that is part of a library system must use the discount calculated for its library system, even if the individual library branch applies for funding on its own. For example, even if an individual library 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 - for example, 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.
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 branches and are 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.
Consortia and statewide applications
  • Consortia and statewide applicants do not have an urban or rural status.