FAQ: Answers To Your Frequently Asked E-Rate Questions

What is E-rate?

E-rate is a an FCC program established in 1997 and originally designed to help disadvantaged K-12 schools purchase telecommunications services and technology in disadvantaged K–12 schools. The original E-rate cap was set at $1.9 billion.

What is E-rate 2.0?

In 2014, the orginal E-rate program was expanded with a change in eligible services and an inrease to $3.9 billion in available funds to be distrubuted starting in 2015.

What is covered under E-rate 2.0?

  • Category 1-Broadband & Internet Access
  • Category 2-Wireless Infrastructure

Are the available funds even higher in 2016?

Yes, at $5.8 billion, 2016 has the most infrastructure funding in E-rate history.

Why are the available funds higher in 2016?

Unused funds (rollover) from previous years are being rolled into the 2016 fund.

What are rollover funds?

Rollover funds occur when USAC (Universal Service Administrative Company) has unspent dollars for any given funding year.

How much was rolled over from 2015?

$1.9 billion.

What’s the total E-rate fund in 2016?

New Annual Program Budget-$3.9 Billion for entire program-up 60% from previous budget cap.
This funding cap will be indexed to inflation each year starting in FY 2016.
FCC can roll over unused funds from prior funding years.
Available rollover funds for 2016-up to $1.9 Billion
Total Budget for 2016: Up to $5.8 Billion if demand is there
  • Total Budget for 2016: Up to $5.8 billion. Includes:
  • New Annual Program Budget => up to $3.9 billion for entire program.
  • Plus unused funds from prior year => up to $1.9 billion
  • Total => up to $5.8 billion 

How much of that E-rate money is earmarked for Wi-Fi in 2016?

Estimated Budget for Wi-Fi => $3.2 – 3.8 billion

How much funding is our school eligible for?

As a guideline, funding is provided based on $150 per student, so a school with $10,000 students is eligible for $150 million.

Are there stipulations around that $150 per student guidance?

E-rate will pay the portion equal to their e-rate discount %. The school would pay the remaining % of the cost. 

 For example a 500 student school with a 40% e-rate discount would be: $150 x 500= $75,000 total budget.  The school would pay $45,000 & e-rate would pay $30,000 of the total $75,000.

Is this program limited to disadvantaged K-12 schools and libraries?

No. FCC wants all schools and libraries to Apply in 2016.

If my school is small and/or private can I still apply?

Any schools, of any size, public or private, are encouraged to apply.

What are examples of who can apply?

  • Eligible K–12 public schools and school districts
  • Eligible K–12 Private schools
  • Eligible libraries and library consortia
  • Consortia of eligible entities (e.g., regional consortia, statewide networks)
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs/Bureau of Indian Education-K–12 & Libraries
  • U.S. Territorial Education Agencies-K–12/Libraries

What is covered by E-rate Category 2.0?

  • Access Points
  • Structured Cabling
  • Caching Servers
  • Firewalls
  • Network Switches
  • Antennas
  • Routers
  • Racks and UPSs (equipment only)
  • WLAN Controllers
  • Improvements, upgrades, and software necessary to support eligible broadband internal connection components
  • Basic Maintenance Services for eligible equipment (repair of equipment, cable maintenance, basic tech support, configuration changes)
  • Cloud based functionality of this equipment

Is Managed Wi-Fi covered?

 Yes.

What are the deadlines?

  • 471 Window will open at Noon est. Feb 3, 2016
  • 471 Window closes at 11:59 pm est. April 29, 2016
  • This means the last day to file a Form 470 is April 1, 2016

How do I get started??

Registering for the EPC portal on the USAC.ORG web site is your first then filling out and submitting your Form 470 are the first steps in the process.

Unanswered questions? 

Tweet @Aerohive with your questions. Or you can attend a webinar, which offer help with starting this process. Click here to see the schedule.

Coming soon:

Live Social Media chat in which we answer all of your unanswered E-rate questions.

Articles

E-rate Rollover Funds: Why All Schools And Libraries Should Apply Now

Resources:

Learn How to Apply for E-rate here.

Calculate your E-rate funding here.

Sit in on a Webinar and ask questions. See the webinar schedule here.

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Amanda Henry is Editorial Director, Content Marketing at Aerohive and Editor in Chief of boundless magazine.

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