Administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access
Funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services
The program is intended to ensure schools and libraries have access to affordable telecommunications and information services.
Funding is requested under four categories of service:
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% to 90% of the costs of eligible services. Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.
The Process Cont.
There are several steps to follow in order to apply for and receive support.
The 1 st step is eligibility determination.
In general, a school is eligible for Schools and Libraries support if it meets the following eligibility requirements:
Schools must provide elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.
Schools may be public or private institutional day or residential schools, or public charter schools.
Schools must operate as non-profit businesses.
Schools cannot have an endowment exceeding $50 million.
Schools, school districts, and libraries that want to apply for Schools and Libraries support must first prepare a technology plan.
**Beginning Fiscal Year 2011 a technology plan is only required for Priority 2 services (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections).
An approved technology plan should detail how information technology and telecommunications infrastructure will be used to achieve educational goals, specific curriculum reforms, or library service improvements.
The plan must contain the following elements:
Goals and realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology
A professional development strategy
An assessment of telecommunication services, hardware, software, and other services needed
Ongoing evaluation process
Technology Plan Cont.
Important to Note
The technology plan must be approved by a USA certified technology plan approver before discounted services can begin. The state is the certified technology plan approver for libraries and public schools. Non-public schools and other entities that do not secure approval of their technology plan from their states have to locate a USAC-certified technology plan approver.
Remaining Steps in the Process
Step 3 Open a Competitive Bidding Process
Step 4 Select a Service Provider
Step 5 Calculate the Discount Level
Step 6 Determine Your Eligible Services
Step 7 Submit Your Application for Program Support
Step 8 Undergo Application Review
Step 9 Receive Your Funding Decision
Step 10 Begin Receipt of Services
Step 11 Invoice USAC
Highlights of Steps
Program funding commitment decisions are issued in "waves," or regular cycles.
If an applicant believes its funding request has been incorrectly reduced or denied, the applicant can appeal the decision to USAC or to the FCC.
Applicants should ensure they are in compliance with applicable mandates of the program (ie. Children's Internet Protection Act).
Support is paid only for services that have actually been delivered, applicants must verify the start date of services.
Reviews and Audits are conducted at various times to ensure compliance with FCC rules and program requirements and to assist in the prevention and detection of waste, fraud, and abuse. There are procedures to follow when audited.
How does E-Rate Assist Our District
Our district has a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students.
Our district pays 12% for technology infrastructure.
The support of this program is critical to our district, especially with the recent economic challenges that may be present for many Texas school districts.
The Universal Service Fund is a comprehensive program with many processes and procedures.
Video tutorials, training sessions, conference calls, tips sheet, and a binder are among available resources to assist program participants.
The website www.universalservice.org is also very informative and could assist with understanding the program.