Money is tight, and there never seems to be enough.
What if you could have just a little piece of 3.99 billion dollars that Congress has set aside in 2018 to supplement your budget for internet connection, internal network internet delivery, and internal connection maintenance?
It’s called the E-rate Program.
It helps schools and libraries throughout Minnesota – and the nation – by giving substantial discounts on internet access and services related to the delivery of that internet service.
For example, Insight Technologies recently helped a local Minnesota educational institution save $300,000 by leveraging the E-rate Program when they switched from Cisco switches to HP Aruba Switches.
The E-rate Program is used by institutions large and small to enable them to afford the internet access, infrastructure, and maintenance they need.
Libraries and the systems that they are a part of are eligible to apply for E-rate financing. These include public, academic, tribal, research, and private libraries. Even library kiosks and mobile libraries are included — if they are considered to be branches of a library.
The E-rate program is funded through the FCC, and the funds and program are administered through the non-profit entity, Universal Service Administrative Co.
The disbursement of the funds available is made according to the level of poverty of the schools or libraries, whether the library or school is in the city or country, and the type of service for which the applicant is requesting the funds. The schools or libraries with the highest poverty get the first money available and have the highest percentage of their internet technology project covered by the E-rate Program. Poverty is based on the percentage of students in your school that are eligible for the National School Lunch Program, and city/rural status is determined by the latest census.
In 1996, Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act. This piece of legislation, among other things, gave the FCC the directive of establishing the E-rate Program. (At that time, internet access in K-12 classrooms stood at a dismal 14%.) The FCC makes up the rules or “Orders” that govern the operation of the E-rate program. Those Orders are then taken by the USAC and boiled down into protocols and procedures for administering the applications to the program, the review and approval of those applications, and the disbursement of the funds. Each year, the USAC undergoes a review of its E-Rate Program activities by the FCC.
Each year, the FCC sets the E-rate Program’s fund – indexed to inflation from its inception in 2014. The Funding Year runs from July 1st to June 30th of the following year. For example, the 2018 Funding Year will run from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. Applications for 2019 Funding Year will be accepted until the latter part of March 2019. To stay informed on the program’s changes and deadlines, you can sign up for the USAC newsletter by visiting https://www.usac.org/about/tools/publications/subscription-center.aspx
The FCC puts out an Eligible Services List each year and separates the eligible services into two main categories:
Category #1 — Internet Services and Data Transmission Services
Category #1 would include services such as:
Category #2 — Internet Connections within a Facility, Internal Broadband Management, Maintenance of Connections Within a Facility
Category #2 would include services such as:
The Insight Technologies team is thrilled to play a part in helping eligible schools and libraries take advantage of E-rate Program funding. The substantial savings available allow libraries and schools to afford cutting-edge internet connectivity while saving money to use in other needed areas of their institutional budget.
We assist educational institutions and libraries throughout Minnesota to plan the services needed for their E-rate Program application and when the funding becomes available, we leverage the following services to implement the needed information technology within their facility.
Our technicians will work closely with your institution’s point person and the internet service provider to ensure that your project goes according to plan and that your school or library gets the most benefit possible from your expenditure and E-rate Program funding.
Want to read more outstanding articles? Check out our blog HERE.