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On May 7, 1997, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Universal Service Order implementing the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Order, commonly referred to as "E-rate" (Education Rate) ensures that all eligible schools and libraries have affordable access to modern telecommunications and information services. Up to $2.25 billion annually was authorized initially to provide eligible schools and libraries with E-rate discounts. The amount actually allocated by Congress for FY 1998 was $1.9 billion, but the full $2.25 billion was authorized each year beginning with 1999-2000. As of FY 2020, the annual cap for both category one and category two service is $4.15 billion, indexed to inflation. During times of zero inflation or deflation, the funding cap will remain the same as the previous year.
In January 1999, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) - which is the overall administrator of Universal Service Fund collection and distribution - merged with the Schools and Libraries Corporation (SLC) and the Rural Health Care Corporation (RHCC). The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of USAC is responsible for administering the E-rate program for libraries and schools.
The following are eligible to apply for discounts:
The following are also eligible for E-rate discounts as part of their school district, nonpublic school, BOCES, or Big 5 City Board of Education application:
Libraries and library systems submit their application for this program (Forms 470 and 471) directly to the Schools and Library Division (SLD) through the online portal. Visit the revised USAC website, or navigate directly to the EPC.
Discounts can be applied to all commercially available telecommunications services, Internet connectivity, and internal connections. Beginning in 2019, support for voice services is no longer an option. Support for broadband services and Category 2 services will be increased.
Discounts range from 20 percent to 90 percent, depending on economic need, location (urban or rural), and category of services. The level of discounts for libraries is based on the percentage of student enrollment that is eligible for the National School Lunch Program or Community Eligibility Provision in the public school district in which the library is located.
For each Program Year (1-23), libraries and library systems in New York State received an average total of $10.81 million. The grand total received from the E-Rate Program for all years is over $223 million.
You can get further information by contacting your library system. For additional information, see the E-Rate Central web site. You can also contact Lauren Cardinal, New York State Library, Division of Library Development at 518-474-1479.
Lauren Cardinal, 518-474-1479
Winston Himsworth, 516-801-7801