Universal Service Discount Program for Libraries

E-rate is a federally created program to provide discounts to assist most schools and libraries with obtaining affordable telecommunications and Internet access. It was enacted by Congress under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Universal Service Administration as the mechanism for administering the program. Services eligible for E-rate discounts include telephone service, data circuit connections, Internet access and internal connections. Discounts, ranging from 20% to 90%, are based on an individual school's enrollment participation for the National School Lunch program. The discount percentage for a library is based on the weighted discount percentage for the school district in which the library is located.
The State Library of Iowa has created an e-rate consulting toolkit w/FAQs and resources to address some of the issues which libraries often mention in their reluctance to file. 
Called "Barriers", it responds to the common reasons libraries give for not participating and offers possible solutions to addressing these reasons.
Check it out and see if it offers you a compelling rational to participate after all!

Latest E-Rate News from USAC (Universal Service Administrative Company)

***Updated USAC Website Launched***

The updated site features design and functionality changes to help users find the information they need, when they need it. There is a brief video on the website that demonstrates many of the site's new features.

The site's navigation is new but the content mostly hasn't changed. However, any hyperlinks or bookmarks to USAC web content, including PDFs and CSV templates, will no longer link directly to these documents, but will redirect users to USAC's updated landing page, USAC.org.

Here are the main features of the updated E-rate homepage:

At the top of the page, in the upper right-hand corner, there is a Search function labeled with the icon of a magnifying glass. You can use this to search for program reference materials and other program information. This is the easiest method to locate these documents, as the Reference Area from the previous version of the website is no longer available.

Below the E-rate banner, you now have three options: Manage Your Account, Resources, and Upcoming Dates.

  • Manage Your Account includes a link to sign in to EPC and links for both applicants and service providers to file invoices.
  • Resources on the homepage features links to some of the most commonly used resources that were previously available on the left-hand side of each page: Eligible Services List, Tools, Weekly SL News Brief, Training, and Announcements.
    • Each edition of the SL News Brief will now have the topics it covers listed under the link to that edition, rather than appearing in a list sorted by topic. Prior editions of the SL News Brief can be found in the SL News Brief archive where you can search either by topic or by date.
    • 2019 E-rate Training event information and links to presentations are located in the Regional Training section. At the bottom of the Regional Trainings section, you can also find the Training archive. This archive allows users to access and review agendas, training materials, and other information for training activities from previous years. 
  • Upcoming Dates shows the most recent important program dates along with a link to the full calendar of upcoming dates posted in this section. 

The next section, How It Works, contains information on eligible recipients of services and eligible services. This is followed by the section labeled "The Process," which contains the basic steps in the application process for applicants and a link to navigate to the process steps for service providers. You can click on the Get Started button to access more detailed information. 

The final section, Announcements, contains important program notices such as deadline reminders, system outages, links to published SL News Briefs, and more. Click the "Read more announcements" link to access the full list of posted items on the Announcements page. 


Client Service Bureau (CSB)

Program participants can receive assistance with program questions, problems, and system issues by calling (888) 203-8100 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.


Applicants can begin preparing now for the successful filing of their FY 2020 funding applications by taking the following steps:

  • Install Browser Updates: Google Chrome is the preferred browser for EPC, but no matter which browser you use, be sure the latest version is installed on your computer.
  • Establish Account and User Rights: If this is your first year participating in the E-rate program, call the USAC Client Service Bureau at 888-203-8100 to create your account in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). If you already have an EPC account, log in and review, update and/or assign user rights for persons who will need access for FY 2020.
  • Proceed With Competitive Bidding:  You start the competitive bidding process by filing your FCC Form 470. Remember that you must wait 28 days after filing the FCC Form 470 before entering into an agreement and filing your application. Waiting for the filing window to open is not necessary. USAC's website at http://www.usac.org/sl/applicants/step01/default.aspx provides step-by-step instructions for completing the FCC Form 470 and conducting the competitive bid process.


Resources from the USAC website:

EPC Training Site

Trainers and other program participants can use USAC’s E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) training site to practice filing forms, learn how to navigate the system, and train new users – all without affecting actual information and settings in the EPC production site. Remember that forms filed on this site are for practice only. They will not be submitted to or reviewed by USAC.


Designed to help you understand and manage the form filing process, FCC requirements, and other elements of the Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program.


User Guides, instructions on how to fill out forms, forms with which you will become familiar are all here


See the Eligible Services Overview for details on products and services that are eligible for E-rate discounts.


Technology Plans and the E-Rate Program: A Primer for Libraries

** Technology plans are not required, but are recommended.

The Children's Internet Protection Act and information about Filtering:


The Arizona State Library's E-Rate documentation at: https://azlibrary.gov/erate

The Arkansas State Library's E-Rate information at: www.asl.lib.ar.us/landing-page/index/erate



For more information or questions on E-Rate, contact:
Richard Govea, State Library, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.