What is E-Rate?
The FCC's E-Rate program makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries. With funding from the Universal Service Fund, E-Rate provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.
E-Rate services are divided into two categories. Category 1, which include telecommunications and internet services delivered to building, can be discounted up to 90%. Category 2, which includes network infrastructure within a building, can be discounted up to 85%. Category 2 typically includes firewalls, wireless networks and basic maintenance for all of those on-premises network devices. General managed services and monitoring solutions, however, are not covered by E-Rate.
For a complete list of eligible services visit USAC's website at https://www.usac.org/e-rate/applicant-process/before-you-begin/eligible-services-list/.
Consilium has a SPIN with USAC and can order eligible E-Rate equipment for use at your school.
Looking for more info on how to get started with E-Rate? Click the button below to review the process and obtain a Billed Entity Number (BEN) for your school.
E-Rate Frequently Asked Questions
Have more questions about E-Rate? Review our FAQ below.
What's new for the 2021-2022 funding period?
We're back to a five-year budget cycle, with the first cycle running from FY2021 through FY2025. Applicants can submit applications in any or all Funding Years during this five-year cycle. A new budget cycle will begin in subsequent five-year periods (e.g. FY2026) with no rollover of funds from cycle-to-cycle.
The budget multiplier factors have been updated to $167/student for schools, and $4.50/square foot for libraries.
School districts and library systems will also now have a single budget to administer. Previously, funding was calculated for every physical site. This change helps simplify administration and allows schools and libraries to transfer equipment between sites as needed.
Finally, the per-site funding “floor” will increase from $9,200 to $25,000. For example, if a small school had 100 students, their E-Rate funding would calculate to $16,700 ($167/student x 100 students). With the increased funding floor, the school would still receive $25,000 in E-Rate funding.
When is the filing window for the E-rate schools and libraries program?
The filing window for schools and libraries is open from mid-January through late March. During this time, schools and libraries can submit a formal request for services (Form 470) and start fielding bids.
What services are covered by E-rate funding?
There are two categories of supported equipment and services. Category One includes the services needed to support broadband connectivity to schools and libraries. This includes data transmission services, internet access and voice services. Category Two includes the internal connections needed for broadband connectivity within schools as well as the basic maintenance of these internal connections. Eligible broadband internal connections include firewall services and components, routers, switches, and wireless controller systems, among others. You can see a full list of the eligible services for both Category One and Category Two here.
What else can be covered by E-rate funding?
Most taxes and surcharges are reimbursable, as well as fees such as installation, construction, change, and contingency.
What is a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) and why is that important?
A Service Provider Identification Number is a nine-digit number assigned to service providers by the USAC when the relevant FCC paperwork is filed. The SPIN should be used when filing for an E-Rate deal to indicate your chosen network provider. Consilium’s SPIN is 143052252 and should be filed under Consilium, Inc.
Can I choose any service provider?
You can choose a service provider based on the factors that are most important to you, but cost-effectiveness must be weighed more heavily than any of the other factors. Once the request for services has been posted to the EPC Center for E-Rate for 28 days, you can move forward with your selection. If you wish to select a service provider that is not the most cost-effective, you must submit an explanation detailing the reasons for your decision.
What if I'm unhappy with the provider I've selected?
Although the funding year is July 1 through June 30, customers that are unhappy with their provider can request an operational SPIN change. The key thing to remember is that the amount of funding you've received will not change if you switch providers.
When will I find out if my E-Rate request was approved?
Applicants usually find out mid-year whether or not they have been approved. If services have already been installed and you have already been paying the full amount, you will receive a credit or receive the overpayment amount in a lump sum.
What if I'm denied funding?
In the event of a denial, Consilium will file an appeal on your behalf. We will continue providing service and billing you for the full amount if a contract has already been signed.