USAC E-rate Program

Date of Last Revision: August 2016

All FracTEL services, including those provided through our third-party partners such as Internet access, are eligible for reimbursement under the USAC E-rate program. As you might expect, there are a number of bureaucratic requirements to qualify for reimbursement, however the discounts are substantial and likely worth the effort. If you think your organization may qualify, please contact us. The FracTEL team is experienced with the E-rate program and is happy to advise and assist.

If you are already participating in the E-rate program and wish to include FracTEL in a project, our E-rate SPIN number (498 ID) is 143048610.

What is the USAC E-rate Program?

The universal service Schools and Libraries Program, commonly known as the E-rate Program, helps ensure that schools and libraries can obtain high-speed Internet access and telecommunications at affordable rates.

Funding may be requested under two categories of service: Category One services include Data Transmission Services and Internet Access, and Voice Services. Category Two services include Internal Connections, Managed Internal Broadband Services, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. Discounts for support depend on the category of service requested, the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the appropriate school district.

How Much is the Discount?

The discount on qualified services under the E-rate program varies from 20-90% of the cost of eligible services depending on the eligibility of the entity and the category of the service. Applicants use a discount matrix to determine the correct discount level for a school district or library system.

What Organizations Are Eligible?

The universal service Schools and Libraries Program, commonly known as the E-rate Program, helps ensure that schools and libraries can obtain high-speed Internet access and telecommunications at affordable rates.

To be eligible for discounts from the Schools and Libraries Program, you must meet the program definition of a school or a library. If you are not sure of your eligibility status, you may need to contact your higher-level administrative agency – your state department of education, your state library, or other organization – to assist you.

Note: Schools and libraries can apply on their own or they can form consortia to aggregate demand and thereby negotiate lower prices. The entity leading the consortium may or may not be eligible for discounts.

It is also possible that certain school or library students and/or facilities may also be eligible for discounts:

  • Non-instructional facility (NIF) – this category includes school buildings that generally don’t contain classrooms (e.g., school administrative buildings, school bus barns, school stadiums) or library buildings that don’t have areas open to the public (e.g., library administrative buildings, library technology centers, bookmobile garages)
  • Non-traditional elementary and secondary education – this category includes Head Start, pre-kindergarten, juvenile justice, adult education, etc.
  • Educational Service Agencies (ESA) – also called ESUs, BOCES, or other names, these are regional public service agencies that develop, manage, and provide services or programs to local education agencies
  • School Residential Facilities – the following school residential facilities are eligible for discounts:
      • School on Tribal lands;
      • Schools that serve children with physical, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities;
      • Schools that serve children with medical needs;
      • Juvenile justice schools, where eligible; and
      • Schools with 35 percent or more students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

What Services Are Eligible?

Each year, before the FCC Form 471 application filing window opens, the FCC releases an Eligible Services List (ESL) for the upcoming funding year. This list contains a description of the products and services that will be eligible for discounts, along with additional helpful information such as eligibility conditions for each category of service for each specified funding year.

The Eligible Services List (ESL) for each funding year provides guidance on the eligibility of products and services under the Schools and Libraries Program.

The ESL includes five service types that fall in one of two funding categories:

  • Category One
    • Data Transmission Services and Internet Access
    • Voice Services
  • Category Two
    • Internal Connections
    • Managed Internal Broadband Services
    • Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections

2016 Eligible Services List  PDF (opens in new window)

Program Registration Requirements

The E-rate program has two pre-requisite registration requirements:

E-rate Productivity Center (EPC)

In general, your school district or library system must have an account in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) to file program forms, receive notifications, and conduct other program activities. Independent schools and libraries, consortia and statewide applicants also have accounts. You must have an account administrator who manages your account, grants rights to other users, and provides or updates information on the schools in your school district or libraries in your library system. If you do not have an account in EPC or need assistance, call our Client Service Bureau (CSB) at (888) 203-8100.

Entity Numbers

If you do not have an entity number (also called a billed entity number or BEN), you will need to obtain one. In general, each school and school NIF in a school district and each library outlet/branch and library NIF in a library system must have its own entity number if it will receive discounted services. Call CSB at (888) 203-8100 if you need assistance with entity numbers.

What Is The Procurement Process?

The E-rate reimbursement program requires a Competitive Bidding process. Competitive Bidding is a formal process to identify and request the products and services you need so that potential service providers can review those requests and submit bids for them. To open the process, post an FCC Form 470 to the USAC website.

The entity that will run the competitive bidding process – which may be you, a state procurement agency, or another entity that you have authorized to negotiate on your behalf with a Letter of Agency (LOA) – files an FCC Form 470 (Description of Services Requested and Certification) and must be prepared to receive and evaluate bids and negotiate with service providers.

Applicants must wait at least 28 days from the date the FCC Form 470 is posted before closing the competitive bidding process.

Internet Access Exemption from Filing an FCC Form 470

Commercially available business class Internet access services are exempt from the FCC Form 470 posting requirement if they cost $3,600 or less annually (including any one-time costs such as installation), provide bandwidth speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream, and provide basic conduit access to the Internet at those required minimum speeds.

Click here for more information on Competitive Bidding

How Does Reimbursement Work?

USAC can process invoices from either the applicant or the service provider after the following have occurred:

  • USAC has issued a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) with a positive funding commitment;
  • Services have started (USAC can process invoices for progress payments after review of the contract if it includes a specific payment schedule);
  • The applicant has submitted, and USAC has successfully processed, an FCC Form 486; and
  • The service provider has filed an FCC Form 473 for the relevant funding year.

There are two methods that can be used to invoice USAC. Once USAC has processed an invoice for a Funding Request Number (FRN), that method of invoicing must be used for that FRN for the remainder of the invoicing process.

Invoicing Method #1

Applicants file the FCC Form 472, Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form if they have paid in full for the services and want to be reimbursed for the discount amount.

Applicants file BEAR forms online in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). Billed entities will receive payment directly to their bank account. In order to begin direct BEAR payments, the applicant must have completed an FCC Form 498 toobtain an applicant 498 ID.

Invoicing Method #2

You file the FCC Form 474, Service Provider Invoice (SPI) Form if you have billed the applicant for the non-discount amount (the applicant’s share of the cost) and want to be reimbursed for the discount amount.

USAC will review the SPI Form and process a payment to you if payment is approved.

The applicant is always required to pay the non-discount portion of the cost of the services.

Filing SPI Forms

You have two options for completing and submitting the SPI Form:

  • You can file online, or
  • You can file electronically (USAC will set you up for electronic invoicing upon request and then you can submit your invoice information to USAC in a comma-delimited file).

Visit the USAC E-rate website for more information