Universal Service Discount Program for Libraries

E-rate is a federally created program to provide discounts to assist most schools and libraries with obtaining affordable telecommunications and Internet access. It was enacted by Congress under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Universal Service Administration as the mechanism for administering the program. Services eligible for E-rate discounts include telephone service, data circuit connections, Internet access and internal connections. Discounts, ranging from 20% to 90%, are based on an individual school's enrollment participation for the National School Lunch program. The discount percentage for a library is based on the weighted discount percentage for the school district in which the library is located.
The State Library of Iowa has created an e-rate consulting toolkit w/FAQs and resources to address some of the issues which libraries often mention in their reluctance to file. 
Called "Barriers", it responds to the common reasons libraries give for not participating and offers possible solutions to addressing these reasons.
Check it out and see if it offers you a compelling rational to participate after all!

Latest E-Rate News from USAC (Universal Service Administrative Company)

E-rate Funding Year 2018 Application Filing Window

The Funding Year (FY) 2018 FCC Form 471 application filing window opens Thursday, January 11, 2018, at 12:00 noon EST and closes on Thursday, March 22, 2018, at 11:59 PM EDT.

Thursday, February 22, is the last day that you can certify an FCC Form 470, then wait 28 days, and still certify your FCC Form 471 before the filing window closes on Thursday, March 22 (see below).

You must wait at least 28 days after your FCC Form 470 is certified before you can choose your service provider, sign a contract (if applicable), and certify your FCC Form 471.



Applicants can begin preparing now for the successful filing of their FY 2018 funding applications by taking the following steps:

  • Install Browser Updates:Google Chrome is the preferred browser for EPC, but no matter which browser you use, be sure the latest version is installed on your computer.
  • Establish Account and User Rights:If this is your first year participating in the E-rate program, call our Client Service Bureau at 888-203-8100 to create your account in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). If you already have an EPC account, log in and review, update and/or assign user rights for persons who will need access for FY 2018.
  • Update Your EPC Profile Now:To ensure a smoother filing process, EPC profiles will lock on January 10, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST. You will not be able to make changes to your EPC profile after that date. So, please log in to your EPC account now to make any necessary changes to your profile. Specifically, you should:
    • Ensure that the entity type for each of your schools, libraries, and non-instructional facilities (NIFs) is accurate.
    • Confirm the names and addresses for all of your entities and NIFs, and let USAC know if any have closed or if you expect to add any new entities for the upcoming funding year.
    • Schools should carefully review their student counts, including National School Lunch Program (NSLP) information.
    • Libraries should confirm their square footage, as well as the school district in which their main branch is located.
    • All applicants should review the "Connectivity" questions in their profile if they have made changes to their network or have a different opinion on the sufficiency of their network.

Note that USAC has already updated EPC profiles with the data from approved FY 2017 applications, so you may notice some updated information when you log in to your account.

  • Proceed With Competitive Bidding:If you have not started the competitive bidding process by filing your FCC Form 470, please begin now. Remember that you must wait 28 days after filing the FCC Form 470 before entering into an agreement and filing your application. Waiting for the filing window to open is not necessary. USAC's website at http://www.usac.org/sl/applicants/step01/default.aspx provides step-by-step instructions for completing the FCC Form 470 and conducting the competitive bid process.


USAC’s Schools and Libraries News Brief of February 23, 2018, provides the following reminders for filing a Form 471 for FY 2018:

  • Wait a full 28 days after filing your Form 470 before selecting your service provider(s) and certifying your Form 471.
  • Make sure that you are set up in EPC to be able to work on a Form 471.
  • Start your Form 471 even if you are not ready to provide funding request details.
  • Review the answers to your connectivity questions even if you answered them last year.
  • Create a contract record for each new contract or legally binding agreement.
  • Ask CSB to create missing entities for you and, if possible, attach them to your organization in EPC.
  • For any question, create a customer service case in EPC to provide us with detailed information or if you want a written response to your question.

Representatives at the Client Service Bureau (CSB) are available to help you at 888-203-8100


Check out the webinar series that provide basic information about the program and the application process.

USAC offers webinars to provide program updates and guidance for all stakeholders – applicants, service providers, and consultants.

Each webinar includes updates on recent developments in the E-rate program and EPC, and focus on a single topic. The webinars are  recorded, and you will be able to watch them on demand immediately after the live presentation by using the registration link. You can view them in the Online Learning Library.


See the Eligible Services List for details on products and services that are eligible for E-rate discounts in FY2017 and in FY 2018. 

You can find additional program guidance documents in:


Here is the link to the NM NSLP (National School Lunch Program) numbers for the 2017-18 school year:   http://www.broadband4education.nm.gov/e-rate-1.aspx


Technology Plans and the E-Rate Program: A Primer for Libraries

** For FY2015 and forward, technology plans are not required, but are recommended.

The Children's Internet Protection Act and information about Filtering:


The Arizona State Library's E-Rate documentation at: http://www.lib.az.us/erate/

The Arkansas State Library's E-Rate information at: www.asl.lib.ar.us/landing-page/index/erate



For more information or questions on E-Rate, contact:
Patricia Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.