Grant Tips: How to Get e-Rate Funds for Schools & Libraries

Calculator and a complex graph shows what it's like to get funding form eRate charges.
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Grant columnist Judy Riffle offers her tips for schools and libraries to get funding from telecomm e-rate charges.

Know those funny extra charges on your mobile telephone bill? They help fund phone, Internet and broadband services for schools and libraries throughout the United States. That might make you feel a little better about paying that bill every month.

In 1996, Congress implemented the Telecommunications Act, which established the e-Rate program. The Universal Service Fund provides money for the valuable e-Rate discount program for schools and libraries. Eligible schools include public, private, charter, parochial and tribal. School/library consortia can also apply to share e-Rate expertise.

After 2018, Category One e-Rate services include data transmission services and internet access; there is no budget limit for funding requests and funding must be requested annually. Category One may also involve construction projects such as “lit fiber, leased dark fiber, self-provisioning, construction of network facilities, design and engineering and project management” (USAC). Category Two services include internal connections, managed broadband services, and basic maintenance of internal connections; there is a funding request limit and the funding covers a five-year timeframe (USAC).

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