The E-rate – or, more precisely, the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism – provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. Three service categories are funded: Telecommunications Services, Internet Access, and Internal Connections. Discounts range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services, depending on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served. Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.

The E-rate supports connectivity – the conduit or pipeline for communications using telecommunications services and/or the Internet. The school or library is responsible for providing additional resources such as the end-user equipment (computers, telephones, and the like), software, professional development, and the other elements that are necessary to realize the objectives of that connectivity.

The E-rate is one of four support mechanisms funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the Universal Service Fund at the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); USAC’s Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) administers the E-rate.

To learn more about E-rate visit: http://www.universalservice.org/sl/