ILLINOIS STATE LIBRARY
Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund (E-Rate)
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. Funding is requested under four categories of service: telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections. It is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services.
- Libraries must be eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under the 1996 Library Services and Technology Act (Pub. L. 104-208) (LSTA) Act.
- Libraries must have budgets completely separate from any schools (including, but not limited to, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities).
- Libraries cannot operate as for-profit businesses.
- Develop a Technology Plan
- File Form 470 and Conduct an Open Bidding Process
- Select the Most Cost-Effective Service Provider
- Calculate the Discount Level
- Submit Application for Support (Form 471)
- Schools and Libraries Division Reviews the Application
- Confirm Receipt of Services (Form 486)
- Invoice for Discounts (Form 472 or Form 474)
The application process for Schools and Libraries begins with a technology assessment and a technology plan.* A technology plan designed to improve education or library services should cover the entire funding year (July 1 to June 30) but not more than three years. The plan must contain the following five elements:
Goals and realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology
- What goals have you identified in your library service or school improvement plan?
- What accompanying strategies have been identified to reach those goals?
- What specific telecommunications and information technologies (such as access to the Internet, access to remote databases, distance learning, etc.) are useful in helping you reach those goals?
- What are the specific resources (e.g., trainers, software, Internet access, subscribed databases, etc.) needed to help reach your goals for improved teaching and learning or improved library service?
A professional development strategy
- What are the specific resources and strategies that you plan to implement to ensure that your staff is ready to use and maintain the telecommunications and information technologies?
- What financial and time resources exist to keep the staff up to date in learning about new technologies?
- What professional development opportunities are available, such as service providers; courses at institutions of higher education, conferences; courses delivered via distance learning or over the Internet; courses sponsored by your state education or regional library agency?
An assessment of telecommunication services, hardware, software, and other services needed
- What hardware, software, database subscriptions, and telecommunications resources do you own or use?
- What needs to be replaced or upgraded?
- What else will you need to implement your strategies and reach your goals?
Budget resources, including sufficient budget to acquire and support the non-discount elements of the plan: the hardware, software, professional development, and other services that will be needed to implement the strategy.
- What have you budgeted for the coming year for electricity, telephone service, Internet service, equipment maintenance, staff development and upgrades in hardware and software?
- What will be the source of those funds?
- How will you fund rising costs in subsequent years under this plan?
Ongoing evaluation process
- Who will conduct the evaluation and how often?
- How will you determine if the technology plan was successful in meeting the goals of your institutional plans? Will you employ interview/survey staff, patrons, other stakeholders; measuring progress made towards the benchmarks you set out in your goals; observations or other methods?
- How do you identify potentially useful new technologies (e.g., attending conferences, reading publications, and networking with peers)?
*Applicants that seek E-Rate support for only basic telephone service do not need a technology plan.
A USAC-certified Technology Plan Approver must endorse the technology plan before discounted services can begin. In Illinois, plans are reviewed and certified by Regional Library System staff prior to review and certification by the Illinois State Library. Libraries should send technology plans to the Illinois State Library with a completed Certification Form.
Applicants use the discount matrix to determine the correct discount level for an individual school or library outlet.
|INCOME||URBAN LOCATION||RURAL LOCATION|
|Measured by % of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program||Discount||Discount|
|If the % of students in your school that qualifies for the National School Lunch Program is...||...and you are in an URBAN area, your discount will be...||...and you are in an RURAL area, your discount will be...|
|Less than 1%||20%||20%|
|1% to 19%||40%||40%|
|20% to 34%||50%||50%|
|35% to 49%||60%||60%|
|50% to 74%||80%||80%|
|75% to 100%||90%||90%|
- E-Rate Central
- E-Rate Information from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
- E-Rate Organizer
- Illinois Counties Classified Rural for E-Rate Purposes
- Illinois Free and Reduced-Price Meal Eligibility Data (contact your school district for the most recent data)
- USAC: Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)
- USAC Schools and Libraries: News Briefs
If you have any questions about technology plans and E-rate, please contact your library system E-rate consultant or call the State Library at 217-782-0974.