Funding Year 2021 E-rate Application Window is Now Open

Funds For Learning announces that the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) opened the E-rate  filing window on January 15, 2021, and will accept applications until March 25, 2021. The 24th year of the E-rate program enters a new phase of regulations intended to increase equity and streamline the application process.

“Applicants from across the United States will begin submitting forms to ensure the  95 percent of K-12 students who are supported by the E-rate program stay connected,” said John Harrington, CEO at Funds For Learning. “With funding requests increasing over the past three years, it’s clear that the E-rate program plays a crucial role in helping schools and libraries secure much needed funds for essential broadband services.”

Funding Year (FY) 2021 marks the first year that  Category 2 rules finalized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will take effect, including:…Read More

Form 471 filing window dates announced

USAC’s Schools and Libraries Division has announced important Funding Year (FY) 2018 dates and deadlines.

The FY 2018 FCC Form 471 application filing window opens Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, at 12:00 noon EST and closes on Thursday, March 22, 2018, at 11:59 PM EDT. This filing window is more in keeping with those used in prior funding years.

Representatives at USAC’s Client Service Bureau are available to help applicants at 888-203-8100. Applicants also can open a customer service case in the E-rate Productivity Center to receive assistance.…Read More

E-Rate Survival FAQs

  • What (and who) is E-rate?

    E-rate is a US Federal Program for funding telecom and technology in K-12 schools and Libraries. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under direction by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Key components of the program include:

    • Universal Service Administrative Company(USAC)
      • An independent, not-for-profit corporation that operates as the administrator of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF). The USF helps provide communities across the country with affordable telecommunications services.
    • Schools and Libraries Division (SLD)
      • A division of USAC responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the E-rate Program
    • Universal Service Fund(USF)
      • Currently all telecommunications companies that provide service between states, including long distance companies, local telephone companies, wireless telephone companies, paging companies, and payphone providers, are required to contribute to the federal Universal Service Fund. Carriers providing international services also must contribute to the Universal Service Fund.
  • Where do I go to apply for E-rate?

    Riverbed Xirrus provides a step-by-step guide to the E-rate funding process at under the Start Here menu. The application process is described by USAC on their web site starting here:

  • Is my district or facility eligible for E-rate?

    Typically, most K-12 educational facilities, consortia and libraries are eligible, but there are some requirements. A facility’s or district’s eligibility can be determined starting here:…Read More

New discount method could help—or hurt—eRate applicants

School districts must use a single discount percentage for all of their schools, leading to more—or less—funding for some

The changes have important implications for schools.

[Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]

The FCC’s new eRate rules include important changes in how school districts must calculate their discount percentage. Some districts stand to benefit from these changes, while others could see their eRate funding reduced.

In this report, you’ll learn what these changes are—and how they’ll affect your schools.…Read More

How to avoid eRate rule violations

The FCC is investing millions of dollars to remove eRate waste, fraud, and abuse. Here’s how to make sure you’re not caught in its net

eRate-violationsThis summer, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created a Universal Service Fund (USF) Strike Force, which is tasked with combating waste, fraud, and abuse in various USF programs, including the eRate.

This newly created Strike Force, which is part of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, will almost certainly expend considerable resources ensuring that the procurement practices of schools receiving eRate funding comply with FCC rules.

To avoid a future encounter with the Strike Force, schools should re-evaluate their internal compliance programs—and here’s how.…Read More

2013 eRate filing window announced

The federal eRate program helps schools and libraries obtain discounted telecommunications services and internet access.

Schools and libraries can begin requesting their share of $2.3 billion in telecommunications discounts through the federal eRate program on Dec. 12, and they’ll have until March 14 to apply for 2013 funding.

The Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC), the agency that administers the eRate, has announced the dates of the filing window for the 2013 program year.

The filing window for FCC Form 471 will open at noon EST on Dec. 12, 2012, and close at 11:59 p.m. EST on March 14, 2013. The window will be open for 93 days.…Read More

Your annual ‘eRate Survival Guide’

The filing window for the 2013 program year opens soon.

Since its inception in 1997, the federal eRate has disbursed several billion dollars in discounts to help schools and libraries purchase telecommunications services and internet access. The filing window for the 2013 program year opens soon.

Over the years, the eRate has undergone many rule changes to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse—and the application process can be quite confusing. To help you navigate this process with a minimum of pain and a maximum return on your time invested, we’ve assembled this handy guide.

Dispelling 10 common eRate myths…Read More

Dispelling 10 common eRate myths

Here’s what this year’s eRate training sessions focused on.

The $2.3 billion-a-year eRate program, which helps schools and libraries obtain discounted telecommunications services and internet access, is often confusing for applicants. The program’s different forms, filing windows, and application rules can befuddle even the most experienced eRate applicant at times.

Each fall, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)—the agency that administers the program—holds a number of training sessions designed to help applicants wade through the rules and acronyms that accompany the process. Here’s what this year’s training sessions focused on.

eRate basics…Read More

How applicants would change the eRate, if they could

Many of the comments expressed a deep gratitude for the eRate, and overall, they indicated a desire for a simplified, more predictable program that can help them provide better internet connectivity.

In what could be described as a testament to the success of the eRate program, applicants requested the largest amount in the past decade for Funding Year 2012: more than $5.1 billion. While demand for eligible services is at a 10-year high, it is nearly double the available funding ($2.3 billion).

Sensing that demand for eRate funding would continue to outpace available funding nearly 2 to 1, last spring Funds For Learning set out to gather the perceptions, predictions, and opinions of eRate applicants through a nationwide survey. Over the course of two months, Funds For Learning received hundreds of responses from applicants, gathering insight on how applicants are using the program.

In total, 636 applicants responded to the survey, which represents about 3 percent of total applicants in the country. Of these respondents, 434 identified the school or district they represented, allowing for additional statistical comparisons of their response with eRate funding request data.…Read More

eRate applicants face important changes with this year’s program

Nearly $2.3 billion is available this year to help schools and libraries acquire telecommunications services and internet infrastructure.

As schools get ready to apply for federal eRate discounts for the 2012 funding year, applicants and service providers will notice some new changes to the nearly $2.3 billion-a-year program that helps schools and libraries acquire telecommunications services and internet infrastructure.

The two biggest changes to the program are new gift enforcement rules and updates to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

New gift rules have been “the most talked-about” changes, said Mel Blackwell, vice president of the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC), which administrates the eRate under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission.…Read More