The School and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly known as “E-Rate,” is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. It is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provided interstate and/or international telecommunications service. To read more about E-rate please visit the Universal Service Administrative Company.

Alisa McLeod
Alabama Public Library Service
6030 Monticello Drive
Montgomery, AL 36130
800-723-8459 ext 3904

The E-Rate—or, more precisely, the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism—provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in Alabama and throughout the United States with obtaining affordable telecommunications services and Internet access. The E-rate Program supports connectivity—the conduit or pipeline for communications using telecommunications services and/or the Internet. Applicants for E-rate funding are responsible for providing additional resources; such as end-user equipment (computers, telephones), software, professional development, and other elements that are necessary to effectively make use of that connectivity.

Eligible participants include public and most non-profit K-12 schools as well as all public and many private libraries. All program participants must carry out a competitive bidding process to select the most cost-effective companies to provide the goods and/or services requested.

Funding may be requested under five categories of service: Telecommunications, Telecommunications Services, Internet Access, Internal Connections, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served and range from 20 percent to 90 percent of the costs of eligible services.