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.

Who is eligible to receive money from the E-rate Program?

Schools

  • Elementary Schools
  • Secondary Schools
  • School Districts
  • Public Schools
  • Private and Charter Schools
  • Parochial and Tribal Schools
  • Adult Educational Facilities, Pre-K, and others as long as they fall under Minnesota’s elementary/secondary educational mandate

Libraries

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.

What Part of the Government is Responsible for the E-rate Program?

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.

How does the FCC and the USAC decide which schools and libraries receive funding and how much of the total cost of the information technology project the fund will cover?

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.

What are the laws that have put the E-rate Program into place and govern the administration of the program?

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.

How does the E-Rate Program’s Funding year work?

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

What products and services are eligible for E-rate Program funds?

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:

  • Satellite Service
  • Fiber Optic Services — OC-1, OC-3, OC-12, OC-n
  • Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)
  • Ethernet
  • Leased Lit Fiber

Category #2 — Internet Connections within a Facility, Internal Broadband Management, Maintenance of Connections Within a Facility

Category #2 would include services such as:

  • Implementation and Configuration of Internet Services and Internal Connectivity
  • Software needed to distribute internet throughout the facility
  • Switches
  • Routers
  • Access Points

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.

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