E-Rate Information for K-12 & Libraries
On May 7, 1997, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Universal Service Fund Order implementing the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The law and subsequent Order’s intent was to facilitate affordable access to modern telecommunications and information services for eligible schools and libraries. The program, known as Education Rate (or Erate) makes up to $3.9 billion annually available to provide discounts on eligible services to schools and libraries.

The not-for-profit Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is responsible for administering the Fund under the direction of the FCC. The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of USAC administers the day-to-day operations of the E-Rate program. Visit the USAC E-Rate web site for more information.

E-rate filing window opens February 27, 2017.
Members can begin filing Form 471 on this day.
Form 470 must be filed by: Thursday, April 13, 2017 @ midnight for schools, libraries and consortia.
E-rate filing window closes on: Thursday, May 11, 2017 @ midnight for schools, libraries and consortia.
Merit’s 498 ID Number: 143-004-331
(Formerly SPIN)

Determine how much of a savings your school or library could receive!
Calculate Your E-Rate Savings
Eligible non-profit schools and libraries may receive discounts ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent on eligible telecommunication services, depending on economic need and location (urban or rural). The level of discount is based upon the percentage of students eligible for participation in the National School Lunch Program or other federally approved alternative mechanisms contained in the Improving America’s Schools Act. Libraries use the discount percentage of the school district in which they are located.

Merit has been participating in the E-rate program since its inception. As the chosen service provider for many of Michigan’s ISDs, school districts, and libraries, we know that planning ahead for your connectivity needs helps to streamline the application process and reduce headaches in the years ahead.

See Michigan K12 Technology Plan Approval and Michigan Libraries Technology Plan Approval for more information.

Eligible Services
Traditional telecommunications services: a full range of commercially available telecommunications services including basic telephone service, long-distance telephone service, voice over IP (VoIP) telephone service, leased data circuits, ISDN lines, and video services.

Data Transmission & Internet Access

Direct connections and voice over IP (VoIP) telephone service (training and content is not included).

Wireless

Managed Wi-Fi network services.

Broadband

Communications wiring, routers, switches, hubs, PBXs, network servers, uninterruptible power supply systems, some networking software, voice over IP service, and wireless LANs, as well as maintenance of these connections.

Firewall

Increased security for your Internet, intranet and extranet.

Training

User training related to the use of eligible services.

The E-Rate Application Process
To apply for discounts, schools and libraries submit a three-stage application consisting of:
Description of Services Requested and Certification
This form describes the services and/or products you are seeking, and includes information about you that service providers need to know to best meet your needs. After receiving and posting your Form 470, the SLD will mail you a Form 470 Receipt Notification Letter, confirming that your Form 470 was successfully posted.

The 470 must be posted on the SLD web site for a 28-day competitive bidding period, during which vendors will contact you to bid on your requested services. You must wait at least 28 days from the date of your FCC Form 470 posting before signing any contract or making other arrangements for new services. Nothing in this process is intended to supplant or replace state or local competitive bidding processes or timeframes.

At the end of the 28-day competitive bidding process, you select the vendor(s) for the requested services and sign a contract, unless one is not required, such as tariff telecommunications services or month-to-month service arrangements, which are usually provided without a formal written contract. The Form 470 requires a written technology plan for Priority 2 services, but does not require one for Priority 1 services.

Services Ordered and Certification
This form provides the SLD with the details of actual costs for each service you requested. After you have selected service providers and signed contracts, you must file the Form 471 as soon as you are allowed. Each year the SLD establishes a “window period” for the Form 471, during which all properly completed applications are treated as if they were simultaneously received. Form 471 applications must be submitted during this window to be treated as if they had been simultaneously received. Forms received after the window closes will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The SLD will mail you Form 471 Receipt Acknowledgement Letters, confirming what was requested on your Form 471. After your Form 471 has been reviewed, the SLD issues a Funding Commitment Decision Letter, telling what level of E-Rate funding has been allocated for eligible services. Each service that you request will be assigned a Funding Request Number and will be approved or disapproved individually. The SLD will also notify your vendors of your funding commitment.

Receipt of Service Confirmation
After you receive the Funding Commitment Decision Letter, you must submit the Form 486 as an indication that services have begun. This form allows the SLD to process your service provider(s)/vendor(s) invoices for your discount.

The applicant must have an approved technology plan before Form 486 is filed AND before the services start date. The Form 486 is also used to certify compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) regarding Internet safety policies and filtering. Both libraries and schools must comply with the Internet safety policy and public hearing requirements.

Receiving Discounts
Once a funding request has been accepted and approved, you will receive the applicable discount on telecommunications services, Internet access, and/or internal connections, and pay the remaining portion of the costs to your service providers. Service providers who send discounted bills to participating customers will be reimbursed by the Fund Administrator for the cost of the approved discounts.