The Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly known as the E-Rate Program, helps ensure that schools and libraries can obtain high-speed Internet access and telecommunications at affordable rates. Funded through a Universal Service fee charged to telecommunications service providers, it is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Here are five things school districts should know about the E-Rate program.

  1. The USAC has published the proposed Eligible Services List (“ESL”) for funding year 2018-2019. Access the 2018 – 2019 ESL online.
  2. Applicants may now file their FCC forms 470 to solicit bids for anticipated procurements of Category One and Two services and equipment during the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
  3. Districts should know the remaining Category Two budget for each eligible school building before planning for future IT infrastructure projects.
  4. The current rules regarding Category Two budgets expire after funding year 2019-2020. The FCC has not indicated whether it will maintain the current rules or shift its funding focus elsewhere within the E-Rate Program. If you elect to not use your allotted Category Two funding before the rules expire, you may miss an opportunity to enhance your wireless network capacity at a substantial discount.
  5. The FCC has indicated its intent to increase the number of audits it will perform in connection with the E-Rate program. Therefore, it is highly recommended to maintain an up-to-date asset register for all Category Two equipment purchased through the E-Rate competitive bidding process. Review a sample asset register/inventory list.

The New Jersey School Boards Association has partnered with E-Rate Consulting, Inc. (ERC) to help school districts and member charter schools leverage the opportunities available through the E-Rate Program.

In addition to administrative support, ERC provides guidance to help facilitate the efficient and effective delivery of a school district’s technology objectives. Because the program is deadline-driven, ERC will assist districts with planning purchasing decisions so they adhere to the funding cycle’s rigid timelines, thereby preserving eligibility for E-Rate discounts. Learn more.

To learn more or to request a proposal, please contact Vincent LaForgia, President of ERC.

ERC is offered as part of the NJSBA TEC program, which assists schools in becoming future-ready by providing cost-saving alternatives for creating, establishing and continuing the most current digital learning opportunities available for students. Learn more about the NJSBA TEC program via email.