E-Rate

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. The Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC) administers the E-rate program for the federal government. More information on E-rate.

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 Forms and Timeline

Each year, libraries that wish to receive E-rate discounts must file three forms with USAC: Form 470, Form 471 and Form 486. Your District LRT can assist you in filing any of these forms.  

E-rate Form 470 opens the required bidding process for internet service providers. Service providers review the posted FCC Form 470 information and submit bids. Libraries compare received bids on a Bid Matrix to choose a service provider. Libraries must wait at least 28 days between filing Form 470 and Form 471 to allow time for the bidding process.

E-rate Form 471 is the actual E-rate application to request discounts on eligible services and equipment for the upcoming funding year. Applicants must include information on the recipients of services and service provider(s); provide detailed descriptions of services including costs and dates of service or equipment; and certify compliance with program rules.

E-Rate Form 486 notifies USAC that services have started for the library and certifies that the library is in compliance with CIPA. Libraries must receive a Funding Commitment Decision Letter email notification from USAC before completing this form. Libraries have 120 days from receipt of the notification to file.

Timeline for Funding Year 2023-2024:   

  • Form 470: The filing window is currently open for the 2023 filing year.
  • Form 471: FCC has not set the 2023 deadline.
  • Form 486: There is no filing window for this form; libraries have 120 days from receiving the Funding Commitment Decision Letter from USAC.

Helpful Tips for Form 470

Copy and paste the following narrative into the text box when you reach that step in the online form 470. Update the text with your own library name, location, and internet capacity: 

 The 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.

Form 470 Step-by-Step Example


Bid Matrix

After you file a Form 470, but before you file a Form 471, you must fill out the 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. 

The Bid Matrix needs to be filled out, signed 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. State Library LRTs have been trained in the Form 471 and can help you as well with your application needs. Please don't hesitate to contact 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 a significant amount of time to complete the application. Click the link below to walk through E-Rate Form 471. 

Note: These slides show the 2021-22 application year. There is a small narrative box on this form. In that section, you will want to name your library, the service 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