New Mexico State Library

E-Rate

E-rate Overview

E-rate is a federally created program to provide discounts to assist public/tribal schools and libraries with obtaining affordable Internet access and network equipment upgrades. 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 data circuit connections, Internet access and internal connections. Discounts, ranging from 20% to 95%, 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. In New Mexico, the discounts range between 60% and 95%.

E-rate is divided into two categories.

  • Category 1: Covers broadband connectivity for your library. E-rate can provide reimbursements for monthly internet services, basic installation charges, and construction that may be required in order to deliver broadband to your location.
  • Category 2: Covers network equipment that is used internal to your library. Common items are access points (Wi-Fi), firewalls, network switches, routers, data cabling, required equipment licensees and installation services.
E-rate Cycle
The E-rate cycle begins on July 1st of every year and ends the following June 30th.
 

NOT SURE YOU WANT TO FILE FOR E-RATE?

 
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!
 

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

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Client Service Bureau (CSB)

Program participants can receive assistance with program questions, problems, and system issues by calling (888) 203-8100 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.

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Applicants can begin preparing now for the successful filing of their FY 2023 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. At this time, recommend not using Mozilla Firefox to access the EPC website. There’s a cookie issue which places you in a loop when trying to login.
  • Establish Account and User Rights: If this is your first year participating in the E-rate program, call the USAC 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 2020.
  • Proceed With Competitive Bidding:  You start the competitive bidding process by filing your FCC Form 470. 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. After 28 days, you can close the bidding window and evaluate the bids you have received.
  • Award Vendor and Request Funding: After bids are reviewed, you have awarded the project and have an agreement in place, you can file an E-rate Form 471 to request funding. The 471 window typically opens early January and closes at near the end of March.
  • Starting Services: After you have received a funding commitment decision letter (FCDL), you can plan on starting services or coordinating the installation of equipment. July 1st marks the date when services can start. You can opt to coordinate installation of equipment prior to July 1st but E-rate reimbursements will not be available until after July 1.

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Resources from the USAC website

 

EPC Training Site

Trainers and other program participants can use USAC’s E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) training site to practice filing forms, learn how to navigate the system, and train new users – all without affecting actual information and settings in the EPC production site. Remember that forms filed on this site are for practice only. They will not be submitted to or reviewed by USAC.

Videos

Designed to help you understand and manage the form filing process, FCC requirements, and other elements of the Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program.

Forms

User Guides, instructions on how to fill out forms, forms with which you will become familiar are all here

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See the Eligible Services Overview for details on products and services that are eligible for E-rate discounts.

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

** Technology plans are not required, but are recommended.

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

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The Arizona State Library’s E-Rate documentation at: https://azlibrary.gov/erate

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

 

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For more information or questions on E-Rate, contact:
Richard Govea, State Library, richard.govea@dca.nm.gov