E-Rate Program - Discounted Telecommunications Services

Agency: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
Schools and Libraries (SL) Division

E-Rate Program – Discounted Telecommunications Services

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation created in 1997 to collect universal service contributions from telecommunications carriers and administer universal support mechanisms (programs) designed to help communities across the country secure access to affordable telecommunications services. USAC carries out its functions as the administrator of the federal universal service programs and Universal Service Fund (USF) under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

USAC administers universal service programs for high cost companies in rural areas, low-income consumers, rural health care providers, and schools and libraries.

The universal service Schools and Libraries Program, commonly known as "E-rate," provides discounts of up to 90 percent to help eligible schools and libraries in the United States obtain affordable telecommunications and internet access. The program is intended to ensure that schools and libraries have access to affordable telecommunications and information services.

Eligible participants include public and most non-profit K-12 schools as well as all public and many private libraries. Program participants must carry out a competitive bidding process to select the most cost-effective companies to provide the goods and/or services requested.

Program participants may request funding in five categories of service: Telecommunications, Telecommunications Services, Internet Access, Internal Connections, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served and range from 20 percent to 90 percent of the costs of eligible services.


For purposes of USF support, schools must meet the statutory definition of elementary and secondary schools found in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to be eligible for support (20 U.S.C. § 7801(18) and (38)). Libraries must meet the statutory definition of library or library consortium found in the 1996 Library Services and Technology Act (Pub. L. 104-208) (LSTA) and must be eligible for assistance from a State library administrative agency under that Act. Details about eligibility and getting started in the E-rate Program are located on the Schools and Libraries Before You Begin section of the USAC website.

Further Information

To learn more about the E-rate Program, apply for the E-rate Program support, and learn about eligibility, application forms, data tools, and more, visit the Schools and Libraries Program section of the USAC website. USAC conducts outreach to Schools and Libraries Program applicants through the HATS – Helping Applicants to Succeed initiative. To inquire about HATS, contact the Client Service Bureau at 888-203-8100.

Last Modified: 09/03/2019