E-rate: A Resource Guide for Educators. ERIC Digest.
by Fulton, David
On May 7, 1997, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted
a Universal Service Order outlining a plan to guarantee that all eligible
schools, libraries and rural health care providers have affordable connections
to the Internet. By making $2.5 billion available annually, this program
will provide discounts (commonly known as the E-rate) to eligible organizations
on certain telecommunications services. The plan also creates a $400 million
fund to lower the prices rural health care providers pay for telecommunications
This digest lists resources containing background information, instructions,
application forms, help lines and other useful information related to the
E-rate. Readers should be aware that the resources and their Internet addresses
below, while correct at printing, are subject to change.
The Schools and Libraries Corporation (SLC) SLC is the independent not-for-profit
corporation established to administer the E-rate. Schools and libraries
can file their applications electronically from the SLC Web site. Those
who choose to file manually are welcome to mail their applications to Schools
and Libraries Corp., PO Box 4217, Iowa City, IA 52244-4217. All schools
and libraries who file applications for the program will have the technology
services they requested posted on the Web site in order to invite competitive
bidding from vendors. The Web site operates every day from 5:00 a.m. to
midnight Eastern Time and includes FAQ's, a discount matrix, and fund status.
In the Service Provider area, vendors can search the posted applications,
and users can directly download a report of the highlights of services
that were requested on Forms 470 and subsequently posted on the Web site
for competitive bidding. E-mail questions to: email@example.com or call
National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA)
The FCC appointed NECA as temporary administrator of the support mechanisms
which will fund the Universal Service programs. This site provides information
on Service Provider Identification Numbers (SPIN), consortia, eligible
services, rules of priority, pre-existing contracts, disbursement of funds,
instructions for completing the online forms and an overview of the E-rate
program. The site also links to the Rural Health Care Corporation (RHCC),
which administers the rural health care aspects of the E-rate.
For the latest official government information, FCC orders are available
electronically from the FCC Universal Service Home Page.
Services and Functionalities Eligible for Discounts.
The FCC's Informal Education Page dealing with FCC policy and education
initiatives. Contains press releases, FCC Orders, recent E-rate public
notices, and FAQ's. Use the FCC's fax-on-demand system to obtain a document
which contains information similar to that on the LearnNet page. Call 202-418-2830
and follow the directions to request that document #8844 be automatically
faxed to the number you provide.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SITES
In addition to the two forms (Form FCC 470 and 471), you will find
instructions for completing them and an overview of the Universal Service
program. The overview provides information on: kinds of schools and libraries
that are eligible, consortia (which are also eligible), calculating the
discount, classifying urban and rural locations, eligible services, examples
of eligible and ineligible internal connections, rules of priority, pre-existing
contracts, what schools and libraries must do before applying, the application
process, and Web sites to go to for more information.
Nine Steps You Can Take Now to Prepare for the Schools and Libraries
Universal Service Program
Questions and Answers on Implementation of the Universal Service Program
for Schools and Libraries
OTHER E-RATE SITES
National Center for Education Statistics School (NCES) Codes
The E-rate application forms require the district or school NCES (National
Center for Educational Statistics) code. This site will help you find those
Consortium for School Networking
CoSN, a non-profit organization, promotes the use of telecommunications
in K-12 education to improve learning. This site contains recent SLC Fact
Sheets, E-Rate forms, and links to state education departments.
The Benton Foundation's Universal Service and Universal Access Virtual
The Benton Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, private foundation
which seeks to promote communications in the public interest. The Universal
Service and Universal Access Virtual Library includes research, history,
policy briefings and bulletins.
EdLiNC: Education and Library Networks Coalition
EdLiNC was formed to represent the viewpoint of schools and libraries
in FCC proceedings dealing with the implementation of the Telecommunications
Act of 1996. The EdLiNC Web site includes the latest updates, free publications,
action kits, and links to other Universal Service Sites. One of EdLiNC's
projects is the E-Rate Hotline, which includes a toll free number for questions:
1-800-733-6860 (10 a.m.-9 p.m. EST), a Web site http://www.eratehotline.org
which contains a searchable knowledge base of questions, and an online
form to send your questions to an e-rate expert.
Quality Education Data Information on Universal Service Fund Quality
Education Data (QED) is a research and database company, focused exclusively
on education. This site provides information on the application process,
eligibility, funding, restrictions and program implementation.
3Com "Everything you always wanted to know about the E-rate, but were
afraid to ask."
This workbook, produced in cooperation with the Consortium for School
Networking, includes a disk with SLC forms, a list of state education departments,
a guide to creating a technology plan, and an example of a technology plan.
"The E-rate and Beyond," A Special Report from T.H.E. (Technological
Horizons in Education) Journal
This online journal provides links to breaking news, case histories,
technology backgrounders, links to technology plans, and more.
American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy
This site is directed toward public libraries, and includes links to
telecommunication legislation, regulations, policies and state programs.
Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory (McREL) McREL operates
several regional centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education that
provide research, technical assistance, professional development, evaluation
and policy studies, and information services to several state and local
education agencies. This extensive site includes news, general information
and resources, and state and local initiatives.
Merit is a nonprofit membership organization that provides Internet
services and expertise to Michigan's educational community, libraries,
governments, communities and businesses. A timeline shows the important
dates and deadlines for the universal service program. This site also contains
a list of services and facilities that are eligible and ineligible for
USF discounts, an SLC Fact Sheet on Discount Calculations, examples and
suggestions for calculating the discount as well as updates and K-12 and
On-line Seminar: Universal Service/Network Democracy
This site contains information and activities relating to Information
Renaissance's Universal Service/Network Democracy online seminar. The seminar
is an attempt to involve local teachers and librarians in the implementation
process of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and, specifically, in the
development of rules regarding the Act's new Universal Service provisions
for schools and libraries.
LISTSERV DISCUSSION GROUPS
A one-way (non-interactive) listserver set up to send you e-mail on
the FCC's latest updates and suggestions for preparing your school or library
to get the most out of communications technology. To subscribe, address
an e-mail message in the following manner:
--To: firstname.lastname@example.org sub FCCsend firstname lastname
An interactive listserver through which you can communicate with other
students, teachers, librarians, administrators, and parents who are using
or preparing to use technology. To subscribe, address an e-mail message
in the following manner:
--To: email@example.com FCCshare firstname lastname
A one-way (non-interactive) listserver set up to send you the text (via
e-mail) of Universal Service-related speeches given by FCC Commissioners.
To subscribe, address an e-mail message in the following manner:
--To: firstname.lastname@example.org. subscribe edtech firstname lastname
COSNDISC On-Line Discussion Forum
This on-line discussion forum is open to everyone on the Internet.
It serves as a meeting place for everyone interested in school networking
and helps coordinate policy and projects nationwide. To subscribe to COSNDISC
--To: email@example.com In the body of the message include the single
line, "Subscribe cosndisc, your first name, your last name"
The Michigan Information Network Working Group (MINWG) mailing list
answers questions you may have about the Universal Service Fund. All questions
are answered by a panel of representatives in the Michigan education and
library community. To subscribe to the MINWG-share mailing list, address
an e-mail message:
--To: Majordomo@merit.edu. Then write SUBSCRIBE MINWG-share in the message.
List Archive: http://www.merit.edu/mail.archives/html/minwg-share