Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

Getting Started

Updated April 2017


The universal service Schools and Libraries Program, commonly known as the E-rate Program, helps ensure that schools and libraries can obtain high-speed Internet access and telecommunications at affordable rates.

Want to get started?

The first step is to learn about eligibility. Are you an eligible applicant (school or library) or service provider? What are the services that are eligible for funding?

If you're an applicant, once you understand eligibility, your next step is to review the application process. Before you start, be sure to review what you need to know Before You Begin the process. The process starts with competitive bidding for the services you need. You then select the most cost-effective provider. After you sign a contract or establish a service agreement, and USAC issues you a funding commitment, you can start to receive discounts on the services USAC has approved.

If you're a service provider, the first step is to learn about the program and about your own eligibility. Does your company have a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN), also known as the service provider’s 498 ID? If not, you'll need to obtain one. When you win a bid and start providing services, make sure to discuss the invoicing process up-front to determine which invoicing option the applicant will choose.

Participation Basics

Funding may be requested under two categories of service: Category One services include Data Transmission Services and Internet Access, and Voice Services. Category Two services include Internal Connections, Managed Internal Broadband Services, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. Discounts for support depend on the category of service requested, the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the appropriate school district. Discounts range from 20 percent to 90 percent of the costs of eligible services. Voice Services are subject to a phasedown of 20 percent each funding year until Funding Year (FY) 2019 when voice services will no longer be funded.