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You should first review the description of the Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program and the application process flow chart. These documents will give you an overview of the program and the sequence of activities your potential customers (referred to as “applicants” in the E-rate program) must complete to receive funding. You can also look up unfamiliar acronyms and terms.
Consider the products and services you provide. Many commercially available telecommunications services are eligible for discounts under the program, as are basic conduit access to the Internet and some equipment that allows access to these services. The Eligible Services Overview will give you a general understanding of eligible products and services. You should also review the Eligible Services List (ESL) for the appropriate funding year because the entries in this list, and their eligibility, can change from year to year. Note that some products and services can be partially or conditionally eligible for discounts.
A service provider may have signed contracts with state agencies that applicants can use to purchase eligible services. You should check with the appropriate state agencies to see what applicants must do to apply for E-rate eligible services through a state master contract.
To be eligible for discounts, which range from 20 percent to 90 percent of the actual cost of eligible services, applicants must meet the program definition of a school or a library. Eligible schools and libraries can also form consortia, such as state networks or regional library service systems. The consortium leader may or may not be eligible for discounts. Certain school and library buildings may also be eligible for discounts, such as non-instructional facilities (NIFs), non-traditional elementary and secondary education, and Educational Service Agencies (ESAs).
Once you have reviewed the information above and you have decided that you are interested in participating in the E-rate Program, your next step is to file an FCC Form 498 to obtain a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN).