Product / Technology

E-Rate 101: Your Guide to Federal Funding

by Frontier Business, Frontier Business Contributor

Published Sep 23, 2020

You’re used to doing more with less. But as educational resources increasingly move online, institutions like yours are feeling the budget crunch like never before. You need more bandwidth, more equipment and more network maintenance—and you need it all without increasing your costs. The E-Rate program bridges exactly these types of IT funding gaps. Since 1997, E-Rate has helped schools and libraries offset the costs of network upgrades and other telecommunications services, giving more people the chance to tap into an enriched learning experience through technology. At Frontier, we have decades of experience helping institutions like yours navigate the E-Rate program. But we know the funding process can be complicated. That’s why we’re here to walk you through the nuts and bolts, and how it can provide relief for you and your IT team.

What is the E-Rate program?
The Schools and Libraries Program, more commonly known as E-Rate, is a federally funded program that helps schools and libraries get access to affordable telecommunications and internet access. Administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the FCC, E-Rate can help your institution get discounts of 20% to 90% on eligible services.

Who is eligible for E-Rate funding?
Public and private K-12 schools and nonprofit public libraries are eligible for E-Rate discounts. Groups of schools and libraries (such as consortia, districts and systems) are also eligible. Not sure if your institution qualifies? Full eligibility requirements are available on the E-Rate website.

What services qualify for E-Rate funding?
You can request E-Rate funding under two categories: Category One includes telecommunications services and internet access. It typically gets funding priority over Category Two services. Category Two includes internal connections, basic maintenance and managed internal broadband services. A full list of services eligible for E-Rate discounts is updated and published each year by USAC.

How does the E-Rate program work?
Getting E-Rate funding can take some time, so it’s never too soon to start getting organized. At Frontier, our team of specialists is ready to guide you through the process from start to finish.

All funding applicants need to follow these six steps:

1. Open competitive bidding for desired services
2. Select service providers
3. Apply for discounts
4. Undergo application review
5. Start services
6. Invoice USAC for the E-Rate discount

More detailed information on the application process can be found at usac.org.

Frontier: An experienced E-Rate partner with a reliable network
As a tried-and-trusted E-Rate provider since the program’s inception, we’re well-versed in the ins and outs of the funding process. In fact, we have an entire department dedicated to the E-Rate program. Our specialists have extensive knowledge of the latest rules and regulations, and their sole focus is helping applicants get the best E-Rate discount possible.

With Frontier as your E-Rate provider, you have access to our high-performing MEF 2.0 certified fiber network, plus a 99.99% uptime service-level agreement. So you can fill the gaps in your bandwidth and budget.

Let’s get you some funding relief. Call 866.427.1366 or visit our website to learn more about Frontier as your E-Rate partner.