Background <br />E-Rate is the commonly used name for the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission(FCC).<br />
Background<br />The program provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. It is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services<br />
Purpose<br /><ul><li>It is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services.
The Schools and Libraries Program supports connectivity - the conduit or pipeline for communications using
telecommunications services and/or the Internet.
Funding is requested under four categories of service: 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% to 90% of the costs of eligible services. Eligible schools districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.</li></li></ul><li>
Structure<br />The FCC determined that telecommunications services, Internet access, and internal connections, including installation and maintenance, were eligible for discounted rates.<br />Internal connections were defined as essential elements in the transmission of information within the school or library. <br />The level of discount that a school or library received would vary from 20% to 90% depending on the cost of services and level of poverty as measured by the percentage of students eligible for the national school lunch program. The total amount of money to be disbursed was capped at 2.25 billion<br />
Conclusion<br />Yearly requests for E-Rate funding almost triple the FCC's $2.25 billion limit.<br />In 2005, over 100,000 schools had participated in the program (GAO, 2005, 58). In 2003, nearly half of the funding went to schools where more than half of the students receive reduced price lunches (CRS, 2004, 5).<br />Department of Education Surveys show that between 1994 and 1999, Internet access in public schools rose from 35% to 95%, and access in classrooms rose from 3% to 63%. <br />