Libraries Keep Communities Connected
The Schools and Libraries program, also known as the E-rate program, makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries in America. Mandated by Congress in 1996 and implemented by the FCC in 1997, the E-rate provides discounted telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries, funded by the Universal Service Fund.
There are five categories of services funded:
- Telecommunications Services
- Internet Access
- Internal Connections
- Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections.
Discounts range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services, depending on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served. Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as a part of a consortium.
E-rate is a part of the Universal Service program, which is administered by the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). This not-for-profit corporation was appointed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that the benefits of telecommunications and Internet access services reach students and communities across the country.