Updated October 2017
Additional Discount to Match State/Tribal Funding for Special Construction
If a state provides eligible schools and libraries with funding for special construction charges for high-speed broadband that meets the FCC's long-term connectivity targets, the E-rate Program will increase an applicant's discount rate for these charges up to an additional ten percent to match the state funding on a one-to-one dollar basis.
For Tribal schools and libraries, the E-rate Program will also match special construction funding provided by states, Tribal governments, or other federal agencies on a one-to-one basis, up to an additional ten percent for the applicant's discount rate. Total E-rate support with matching funds may not exceed 100 percent.
For example, a school district with a 70 percent discount rate applies for E-rate discounts for special construction charges associated with a self-provisioned network that costs $100,000. The state provides funding for 10 percent of the special construction costs. The E-rate Program will match that state funding on a one-to-one dollar basis, adding 10 percent to the school's 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 percent state funding) and the E-rate Program is providing $80,000 (70 percent E-rate discount + 10 percent E-rate matching funds).
Using the same example above, if the state provided funding for 25 percent of the special construction costs, the E-rate Program would cap the additional discounts provided to match that funding at five percent. This is because the total amount of support including matching funds may not exceed 100 percent: (e.g., 70 percent E-rate discount + 25 percent state funding + 5 percent E-rate matching funds = 100 percent).
Eligible State/Tribal Funding
For most schools and libraries, the E-rate Program will only match funding for special construction projects if the source of the funding is the state (i.e., funding authorized directly by a state legislature or one or more state agencies).
For Tribal schools and libraries, E-rate will match funding from a state, Tribal governments, or other federal agencies. In all cases, E-rate matching funds will only be approved if the special construction project will provide high-speed broadband connections that meet the FCC's connectivity targets adopted in the E-rate Modernization Order, and may not be applied to any other cost.
Applicants seeking additional E-rate discounts to match state funding for special construction must submit information with their FCC Form 471 filing that USAC will use to determine:
- Whether the state funding is from an eligible source;
- That any terms and conditions associated with the state funding are not in conflict with E-rate rules;
- The appropriate calculation of the additional E-rate discount, if any; and
- Whether the project meets the Commission's connectivity targets.
States with Eligible Funding
Based on information received about the following state broadband programs, USAC believes that the programs identified below would qualify as eligible sources of matching funds. These funds qualify for additional E-rate matching funds for special construction projects that meet the FCC's long-term connectivity targets.
Please note that the final approval of E-rate state matching funds is dependent upon compliance with program rules and a detailed review of the special construction funding request.
- Arizona Universal Service Fund (AUSF) – On March 14, 2017, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved changes to the Arizona Universal Service Fund to provide E-rate eligible schools and libraries with access to $8 million in funds to assist with the payment of special construction charges for broadband. Applications to apply for these funds from the AUSF are limited to E-rate funding years 2017 and 2018. For additional information on this additional facet of the AUSF, see ACC Press Release.
- 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.
- Colorado – Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) – BEST was established in 2008 with the signing of Public School Facilities Act codified at Colo. Rev. Stat. §22-43.7. BEST provides an annual amount of funding in the form of competitive grants to school districts, charter schools, institute charter schools, boards of cooperative educational services, and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. Funding for BEST is variable each year, but around $70 million is anticipated each year.
BEST funds can be utilized for the construction of new schools as well as for improvements to existing school facility systems, structures, and broadband infrastructure. BEST is funded through various state trusts, taxes, lottery, and interest on the assistance fund. Funding for BEST can help eligible schools who are planning on participating in the E-Rate Program receive state match funding for special construction to connect eligible schools to high-speed broadband services.
For more information on the BEST program please see BEST Grant Program.
- The Florida Digital Classrooms Program (DCP) and DCP Allocation – Section 1011.62(12)(a) of the Florida statutes established the DCP "to support school district and school efforts and strategies to improve outcomes related to student performance by integrating technology in classroom teaching and learning." Section 1011.62(12)(b) permits E-rate eligible schools to request state match funding for broadband special construction infrastructure projects. This section also requires that project plans include plans to comply with the rules of any federal programs that support the projects.
For additional information about DCP, see The 2016 Florida Statutes or The Florida Department of Education website.
- Idaho Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant (BIIG) Program – Idaho Senate Bill 1034 modified the BIIG Program to allow an existing allotment of $2.7 million to be used to expand broadband Internet connectivity. This allocation will assist E-rate eligible schools in paying charges related to special construction costs.
For additional information on this legislation, see Idaho 2017 Legislation and Idaho Code §33-910 (2016).
- 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 contain higher education libraries.
The combined funding from the MTEAF, E-rate Program, and a nominal one dollar 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.
- Maryland Construction Improvement Program (CIP) – On April 26, 2017, the Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously approved (see pg. 13) changes to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR 23.03.02.11 and COMAR 23.03.02.12) allowing school districts to use Construction Improvement Program (CIP) funds for special construction projects to connect E-rate eligible schools to high-speed broadband internet under the Federal Communication Commission 's E-Rate Program. Fiscal Year 2018 will be the final year for districts to access federal matching funds from this program. For additional information, funding details and program requirements, contact the Maryland Public School Construction Program.
- 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.
- Missouri Connect & Learn Initiative –The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) distributes funds that E-rate eligible schools can use as state match funding. Funds can be utilized to support infrastructure projects that will provide high-speed Internet access to eligible schools. In the 2018 Fiscal Year budget, the Missouri Legislature appropriated $6 million to DESE to be utilized as state matching funds for E-rate eligible schools for fiscal year 2018.
For additional information on the initiative see Missouri Connect & Learn Initiative.
- Montana – House Bill 390 was signed into law effective May 3, 2017 that appropriated $1 million dollars a year to provide schools with funds that can be utilized for broadband special construction projects that are eligible for state matching funds via the Federal E-rate program. These funds cannot be used by schools for projects where the school will partially or completely own the resulting network.
For additional information on this legislation, please see House Bill 390 and Mont. Code Ann. §200-534.
- Nevada Ready 21 – Nevada Ready 21 is a state wide initiative to improve Nevada schools' access to 21st Century technology. Nevada Ready 21 apportions the Nevada's School Broadband Infrastructure Grant for $2 million combined for budget years 2017 and 2018. This grant is allocated to assist E-rate eligible schools with special construction charges related to the development of Wide Area Networks. These state funds are mandated by Nevada SB515 to be distributed to school districts and state-sponsored charter schools that participate in the Nevada Ready 21 Plan.
To participate, interested school districts or charter schools must submit plans that will be reviewed by the Nevada Commission on Education Technology.
For additional information on this program, see Nevada Ready 21 or Nevada Ready 21 Plan.
- New Hampshire Public School Infrastructure Fund – In New Hampshire, part of the FY 2017 budget surplus, if available, will fund public school infrastructure projects, including one-time fiber infrastructure upgrades for school buildings. Funding decisions will be determined by the Governor in consultation with newly established Public School Infrastructure Commission. For additional information on this fund please visit, Public School Infrastructure Fund.
- New Mexico School Connectivity Broadband Deficiencies Fund – In New Mexico, the Public School Capital Outlay Council (PSCOC) is authorized to expend up to $10 million annually from fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2019 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.
- 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. The Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) was approved 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.
- 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.
- Oklahoma Universal Service Fund (OUSF) – The OUSF was created by the Oklahoma Telecommunications Act of 1997. Section 139.106(B) of the Oklahoma Telecommunications Act provides that "[t]he OUSF shall be funded and administered to promote and ensure the availability of primary universal services, at rates that are reasonable and affordable and Special Universal Services, and to provide for reasonably comparable services at affordable rates in rural areas as in urban areas." In 2016, the Oklahoma legislature adopted Section 139.109.1, which permits E-rate eligible schools and libraries to request state match funding for broadband special construction infrastructure projects through the OUSF.
For additional information about the OUSF, visit the Oklahoma State Courts Network or see OUSF Tips.
- Texas E-rate Classroom Connectivity – Per the Texas Legislative Budget Board website, out of the Economic Stabilization Fund No. 599 appropriated above in Strategy B.2.1, Technology and Instructional Materials, the Commissioner shall distribute $25,000,000 to school districts and charters for qualifying special construction school projects under the E-rate State Matching Provision or any other similar provision under E-rate to ensure the receipt of the federal E-rate Infrastructure Program available in fiscal year 2018. The Commissioner shall distribute the funding to support projects that build high-speed broadband infrastructure to and within schools.
The full appropriations bill can be seen at the Texas Legislative Budget Board website, and the E-rate Classroom Connectivity funding can be found on page III-22 as Rider 69.
- Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) - School Educational Technology Notes – VPSA distributes funds that E-Rate eligible schools can use as state match funding. Funds can be utilized to support infrastructure projects that will provide high-speed Internet access to eligible schools. The Virginia Department of Education is required to authorize allocations of $14,988,495 to the VPSA for education technology grants for fiscal years 2017 and 2018. For additional information about VPSA, visit the VPSA website. Information relating to the budgeting source of the funding for this program can be found by reviewing the state legislative information.