|The E-rate Federal Telecommunications Discount Program provides discounts of 20-90 percent to eligible schools and public libraries on telecommunications and Internet access. The amount of discount depends on the eligibility of students in the school district for the National School Lunch Program (free and reduced price lunch) and whether the school is located in an urban or rural location. |
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the agency responsible for the program. The FCC has created the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to operate the E-rate program on its behalf. The E-rate program is funded through fees collected on consumer bills from telecommunications providers. The division of USAC that administers the E-rate program is known as the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD).
School districts and public libraries access E-rate through an annual application process. There is a limited window of time for application and discounts are applied for one year in advance.
There are a number of steps in the application process. For further information, visit the USAC Schools and Libraries web page. Customer service is also available at 1-888-203-8100. Mary Mehsikomer at TIES can also provide basic technical assistance with the application process. Contact Mary at (651) 999-6510 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Minnesota Department of Education
The MDE provides a source for the free and reduced price lunch information that is used to determine E-rate discounts. For instructions on downloading this data, watch the following video.
E-Rate Application Window
The E-rate Application Window for Funding Year 2016 (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017) opens on February 3, 2016 and will close on April 29, 2016.
E-Rate Modernization Funding Year 2015
Watch this 15 minute video made by Mary Mehsikomer, Minnesota E-Rate Coordinator for Schools to learn about changes to the E-rate program that go into effect beginning Funding Year 2015.
CHILDREN'S INTERNET PROTECTION ACT
E-rate also requires compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act. This act requires any school receiving E-rate funds for Internet access to have an Internet Safety/Acceptable Use policy that has had at least one public hearing. It also requires schools to have a technology protection measure - an Internet filter for all school computers that access the Internet.
In addition, the Protecting America's Children Online Act requires every school receiving E-rate funds for Internet access to have a policy for providing education to students relating to Internet safety and cyber bullying. This policy must be in place by July 1, 2012.
Common Sense Media provides some practical tools for meeting CIPA and the Protecting America's Children Online Act. There are also many resources for teachers, students, and parents on the TIES InforMNs Internet Safety page.