What is the E-Rate?

The Schools and Libraries Program, popularly known as the "E-Rate" program, makes technology affordable for every school and library in the U.S. by providing discounts on eligible services.  Schools and Libraries in low-income urban areas and rural communities qualify for the highest discounts to assure that every American, regardless of age, income, or location has access to the essential tools of the Information Age.

Established by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and funded at up to $2.25 billion per year by contributions from telecommunications companies, the E-Rate provides discounts of 20% to 90% on the cost of telecommunications, Internet access, and nework wiring within school and library buildings.  The discounts are paid directly to the companies that provide the schools and libraries with these technology services.

The E-Rate is administered by the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company, a not-for-profit corporation overseen by the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that the benefits of Universal Service reach communities across the country.



Percentage of students in your school that qualify for the National School Lunch Program

E-Rate discount in an urban area

E-Rate discount in a rural area

Less than 1%



1% to 19%



20% to 34%



35% to 49%



50% to 74%



75% to 100%



A Step-by-Step Guide to the Application Process

  1. School or library develops a technology plan
  2. Applicant files Form 470:  Seeking Service
  3. Vendors respond;  applicant receives bids for 28 days
  4. After 28 days, applicant selects service provider and negotiates a contract, if necessary
  5. Applicant files Form 471:  Services Ordered
  6. SLD reviews request and issues funding commitment letters to vendors and applicants
  7. Applicant files Form 486:  Receipt of Services
  8. Using Universal Service funds, service provider provides discounts or reimbursements