The E-rate Program provides discounts for Wi-Fi, high-speed broadband, and telecommunications services for eligible schools and libraries throughout the country. There are four steps to receive funding:
View the application process flowchart to keep track of where you are in the process.
If you need assistance at any step of the process, contact us.
Service providers should see our section on E-rate for Service Providers.
The first step in applying for funding is to request bids from service providers for the services you need. You request bids by submitting the FCC Form 470. This form must be posted on the USAC website for a minimum of 28 days, known as the competitive bidding period. If you also issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) document, you must upload these documents as part of the form. Service providers will compete to provide you with the services you've requested by sending you bids in response to your posted request. At the end of the competitive bidding period, you will evaluate the bids you receive and choose a service provider. See the FCC Form 470 Resources below for competitive bidding requirements, filing exemptions, and guidelines on evaluating your bids.
After you select a service provider through the competitive bidding process, you can submit your FCC Form 471 application to receive funding. You must submit it in EPC during a specific filing window period each year. In general, the application filing window opens about six months before the start of the funding year and is open for about two and a half months. See the FCC Form 471 Resources below for information about calculating your discount, Category Two budgets, and other filing information.
Once USAC has committed funds to you through a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) and your service provider has started to deliver services to you, you must submit FCC Form 486. This form confirms that your services have started, that you can submit invoices, and indicates the status of your Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) compliancy. Starting in FY2016, you must file the FCC Form 486 in EPC. To file this form for FY2015 and previous years, use the dropdown menu below.
You can submit your invoices using two methods: the Service Provider Invoice (SPI) method or the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) method. You can use the same method for all of your funding requests or use the SPI method for some requests and the BEAR method for the others.
For the SPI method, you must contact your service provider and request discounted billing. Your service provider will provide your E-rate discount on your monthly customer bill and you will pay only your non-discount share. Your service provider will then file the FCC Form 474 to receive reimbursement for the discount share.
You should file the FCC Form 472 (BEAR) if you have paid your service provider in full for your services and want USAC to reimburse you directly for the discount share. You must first file an FCC Form 498 to register your banking information with us.
File Form 500 if you need to adjust your funding commitments and/or modify the dates for receipt of services at anytime.
SPI Method (FCC Form 474)
Service providers file the FCC Form 474 for USAC to pay them directly for the discount share of the cost of eligible services. USAC will review the SPI Form and process the payment to you if it is approved. Before you file this form, you must bill your customer for the cost of the non-discount share, which the customer is always required to pay.
The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program team is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us with your questions or to set up a new user account.