Website Solutions and E-Rate

What is E-Rate?

The Schools and Libraries program of the Universal Service Fund, more widely known as E-Rate, was authorized as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The E-Rate program makes discounts available to eligible schools and libraries for telecommunication services, Internet access, and internal connections. The program is intended to ensure that schools and libraries have access to affordable telecommunications and information services.'s services qualify under this program, which could potentially translate into HUGE SAVINGS for you! As a provider of both web hosting and email services, approximately 80% of the services provides qualifies as Priority One services and are normally funded each year.

What discount can I receive?

All K-12 schools are eligible to receive a discount provided that they meet the statutory definition of elementary or secondary schools as provided by No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and do not receive over $50 million in endowments. Discounts range from 20% to 90% of the cost of eligible services, depending on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population being served. The following chart can be used to determine your relative discount rate.


Table 1: Discounts and Outreach, educators saving money
Income Urban Location Discount Rural Location Discount
If the % of students in your school that qualifies for the National School Lunch Program is... ...and you are in an URBAN area, your discount will be... ...and you are in a RURAL area, your discount will be...
Less than 1% 20% 25%
1% to 19% 40% 50%
20% to 34% 50% 60%
35% to 49% 60% 70%
50% to 74% 80% 80%
75% to 100% 90% 90%
Table 2: Calculations Example
Total Cost $ 30,000.00
Eligible services 75%
Amount eligible for discount $ 22,500.00
Program discount 60%
TOTAL SAVINGS $ 13,500.00
Amount eligible for discount ______________
AMOUNT YOU PAY $16,500.00

Calculations Example

So, for example, let's assume you are signing a contract for $30,000.00 and 75% of the services being purchased are E-Rate eligible. If your program discount was 60%, your total savings would be:

How do I apply?

The application process takes 1 year. It begins July 1 and continuing through June of the following year, for services that are to be rendered beginning the following July. The process consists of numerous forms and a very strict timeline. You can find complete details at the Universal Service Fund website, We have also provided you a general overview of the process here (This information is intended to be informational only. The Universal Service Fund's actual timelines are very strict and subject to change.)

Table 3: Timeframes
Time Frame Information
Before July of the current funding year

Determine your eligibility AND develop a technology plan

July - January

Open a competitive bidding process: Applicants must file the Description of Services Requested and Certification Form (Form 470) to begin the competitive process and must ensure an open and fair competitive bidding process for specific products.

Competitive bidding period (28 calendar days)

28 day waiting period: After filing and submitting a Form 470 on USAC's website, applicants must wait at least 28 days before executing any contracts, selecting a service provider, or signing and submitting the Services Ordered and Certification Form (Form 471).

November - February

Select a service provider: Once the 28 calendar day waiting period is completed, a Form 471 is submitted to the USAC. Form 471 details the vendor selected, related cost, and the discount requested. In making their selection, applicants must select the most cost-effective provider of the desired products or services eligible for support, with price as the primary factor.

February - July

Undergo application review: Each application is reviewed to ensure that Universal Service Fund support is committed only for eligible products and services as well as eligible uses by eligible entities. During this time, the USAC may request additional information. It is essential that both you and provide this information in a timely and accurate manner.

February - July
(after review)

Receive your funding decision: Following application review, USAC issues one or more Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) to both the applicant and the service provider(s).

July 1 (or within 120 days of receiving a funding letter

Begin receipt of services: Before USAC can pay invoices, the billed entity must confirm: the start date of services, approval of the technology plan, and compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

July 1 (or after receiving a Form 486 Funding Letter)

Invoice USAC: After eligible services have been delivered, service providers and school and library applicants may submit invoices for Universal Service Fund (USF) support.

Do you assist with the process? can assist you with general program questions, as allowed by the E-Rate program rules. We cannot, however, assist you with the completion of any forms, the writing of a technology plan, or the competitive bidding review process.
For specific answers or assistance with forms, the Universal Service Fund is available to answer any questions you may have.

Universal Service Administrative Company
Schools and Libraries Program
P.O. Box 7026
Lawrence, KS 66044-7026
Toll-Free: (888) 203-8100
Fax Toll-Free: (888) 276-8736
Via E-Mail

You may also use an independent consultant to assist you with the E-Rate process.

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