What is the E-Rate Program?  

  • The Schools and Libraries program, also called the "E-Rate program," makes Internet access service more affordable for schools and libraries in America. Congress mandated in 1996 that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) use the federal Universal Service Fund to provide support to companies that give discounts to eligible schools and libraries. USAC Site
  • Contributions from telecommunications companies provide discounts of 50-90% on the cost of Internet access, and network wiring within library and school buildings.
  • Libraries and schools in low-income urban communities and rural areas qualify for the highest discounts to assure that every American, regardless of age, income, or location, has access to the Internet.
  • All libraries that receive E-Rate discounts for Internet Access, Internal Connections, Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections or Managed Internal Broadband Services must be compliant with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).


 E-Rate Timeline:

Every year with E-rate there are three forms to file... Form 470, 471 and 486. You must wait 28 days between the Form 470 and the Form 471 to allow time for the bidding process. Your district LRT can assist you in filing these forms.  

For Funding Year 2021-2022:   Form 470 Deadline is February 25, 2021

                                                        Form 471 Deadline is March 25, 2021

                                                        Form 486  – There is no filing window for this form. You must get a Funding Commitment Decision Letter email notification from USAC before you can complete this form. You have from 120 days from when you get that notification to file. 

 Helpful Tips for Form 470

You may copy and paste the following narrative into the text narrative box, when you reach that page in the online form 470.  Please update this narrative with your own library name, location, and internet capacity. 

XYZ Library is not seeking a standalone lit fiber circuit nor are they seeking a standalone Internet access only service, (with no transport). XYZ Library is seeking a bundled Internet Access service (IA and associated transport).  This service is to be delivered to the Library at Street address and city.

The library seeks bids for Internet at the following capacities: 25 Mbps (current level) to ---------. Interested vendors should also provide the following information in their bids:  (a) Indicate the type of connectivity (e.g. fiber, coaxial, microwave, etc.); (b). Indicate whether E-Rate C1 eligible bundled firewall is provided; (c). Identify any E-Rate ineligible charges (such as DDoS).  Library reserves the right to cancel this request for bids and to reject all related proposals.

 By submitting a bid on the requested services herein, the vendor certifies its proposed prices are consistent with the FCC’s  Lowest Corresponding Price (“LCP”) requirements and that its equipment and services are compliant with the FCC’s recent Order (FCC 19-121) prohibiting the sale, provision, maintenance, modification, or other support of equipment or services provided or manufactured by Huawei, ZTE, or any other “covered company” deemed a national security threat.

Deadline for vendor proposals is 9:00 am Central time, 29 days after the date this Form

470 is posted.  We reserve the right to reject late-submitted proposals.  Proposals must be e-mailed to the Form 470 contact unless otherwise noted

Bid Matrix:

After you file a Form 470, but before you file a Form 471, you must fill out Bid Matrix. This Bid Matrix can be a very simple one page chart where you give points comparing the bids that you received from service providers for the services that you asked for in your Form 470.  The one guiding rule is that cost must be the most heavily weighted factor...although you can use as many other factors as you wish.  This Bid Matrix needs to be filled out, signed by you and dated, and then kept in your E-rate files for your library. You MUST produce this Bid Matrix if you are ever audited by E-rate auditors in a review. Unsubstantiated documentation can result in loss of funds.

Sample Bid Matrix.

 Helpful Tips for Form 471:  

This form is known as the actual E-Rate application. It is the most time consuming of the forms and the most complicated.     We are happy to announce that all our Library Resource Technicians in the district offices have been trained in the Form 471 and can help you as well with your application needs. Please don't hesitate to call your district staff if you have any questions regarding the Form 471. Do not wait until the last minute to file this form. It can take up quite a bit of time to work on an application and we don't want to have you go up against that deadline. E-Rate Form 471 walk through slides here.  Note: These slides show the current 2021-22 application year. There is a small narrative box on this form.  In that section, you will want to name your library, the Internet Provider which you have chosen, the internet speed you will be receiving (in Mbps or Gbps), whether it is via fiber, cable modem, or dsl, and the exact price per month.

Form 471 Step-by-Step Example Slides