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Office of Digital Learning

E-Rate

E-rate is a federal program that provides technology discounts for schools and libraries. E-rate is administered by the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC) under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Schools and libraries are eligible to receive discounts on the following products and services:

  • Category 1: Internet/broadband (and for a limited time, voice)
  • Category 2: Internal connections, managed internal broadband services, and basic maintenance of internal connections. All schools have a pre-discount budget of $150 per student for Category 2 over a 5-year period; discounts range from 20 to 85 percent based upon poverty level and whether the district is rural or urban. Rural districts and districts with higher poverty receive greater discounts. Almost all Massachusetts public schools receive at least a 40 percent discount.

Products and services must be purchased from eligible contracts and an application must be approved by the E-rate program.

Massachusetts Funding Status (as of February 28, 2017)

Funding YearSchools (#)RequestedCommittedDisbursed
2015 (SFY2016)1,677$49.5 million$43.4 million$33.7 million*
2016 (SFY2017)1,719$41.6 million**$30.4 million***$8.2 million***
Total $91.1 million$73.8 million$41.9 million
* Requests will continue through Jan 2018
** The total requested for 2015 is lower than 2016 due the continuing phase out of Category 1 voice services (approximately $3 million less) and a reduction of $8.6 million in Category 2 requests. These reductions were partially offset by an increase of $3.2 million in Category 1 requests.
*** Still under review

Massachusetts Resources

Category 2 Funding Estimator: Calculates the E-rate funding available to districts and schools. Click on "enable editing" to use the drop-down box. This tool now shows the total Category 2 funds committed for 2015-16, the total applied for in 2016-2017, and the amount remaining for the next 3 years at the district level. (Updated 3/3/2017)
Bandwidth Calculator: Calculates the bandwidth recommended for the district overall and each school in the district, based on the State Educational Technology Directors Association's recommendations for schools of at least 1 Gbps Internet access per 1,000 students and a WAN target of 10 Gbps per 1,000 students. Click on "enable editing" to use the drop-down box. The updated tool compares the recommended bandwidth to the bandwidth applied for in the 2016-17 E-rate application. (Updated 3/3/2017)
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
E-rate Filing Checklist: Step-by-step checklist for filing and receiving maximum E-rate funding for your district. Although focused primarily on Category 2 funding, it also includes deadlines for Category 1 services. (Updated 10/29/2015)
Download PDF Document  Download text Document
Flyer: Summarizes the major benefits of the program, lists eligible Category 1 and Category 2 products and services, and highlight's ESE's tools.
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
E-rate 2.0: Frequently Asked E-rate Questions: These questions and answers focus primarily on changes that have occurred as a result of the E-rate Modernization Order. They provide detailed information about filing deadlines, funding, the competitive bidding process, purchasing off state contracts, and eligible products and services. (Updated 2/3/2017)
PowerPoint Slides for Superintendents: This concise slide deck explains in layperson's terms the benefits of the E-rate program to school committees, municipal officials, and the general public. (Updated 11/11/2015)
View External Link
COMMBUYS: The Commonwealth's Procurement Access and Solicitation System (COMMBUYS) is the website for state contracts issued by the Operational Services Division (OSD). Information about statewide contracts that are eligible for use with E-rate applications can be found at Statewide Contract User Guides.
View External Link
Chapter 30B Procurement Assistance: Enacted in 1990, Chapter 30B of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Uniform Procurement Act, establishes uniform procedures for local governments to use when contracting for supplies, services, and real property. The Office of the Inspector General has printed guidance, including The Chapter 30B Manual, a step-by-step resource for achieving best value procurements. Also, the Office produces many guides and advisories on specific topics. Periodically, the Office issues a Procurement Bulletin, which provides information on current issues and other developments of interest to procurement officials. In addition, the Office has a Chapter 30B team trained in public procurement that can advise you on interpreting, analyzing, and applying the provisions of Chapter 30B.

External Resources

View External Link
Schools and Libraries E-rate Glossary of Acronyms and Terms, USAC, 8 pages
View External Link
Summary of the E-rate Modernization order, FCC
View External Link
Eligible Services List, FCC
View External Link
Phasing Down Support for Voice and Eliminating Support for Other Legacy Services, USAC
View External Link
Competitive Bidding Process, Schools and Libraries News Brief as of February 13, 2015
View External Link
Latest [E-rate] News, USAC
View External Link
Subscription Center (newsletters, Twitter, RSS Feeds, Facebook, etc.), USAC
View External Link
E-rate Modernization Resources, State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA)


Last Updated: April 6, 2017
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