In today’s tough economic conditions, schools and libraries struggle to find resources that support advanced telecommunications. The E-rate program can help.
Since the creation of the E-rate program in 1996, public schools and libraries have received discounts for internet access, telecommunications equipment, and other technology services that are enhancing student learning, improving student achievement, and preparing students for future success.
With advanced telecommunications:
- Connect and network all school district locations
- Offer distance and online learning opportunities
- Expand professional development opportunities for teachers and principals
- Make it easier for members to find material in online catalogs and reference tools
- Implement on-line inter-library loan and e-book programs
- Quickly communicate with the public about overdue notices, events, new acquisitions
- Expand professional development and other learning opportunities for librarians, technology/media specialists, and the community
The federal Education Rate (E-rate) program, one part of the Universal Service Fund, provides $2.25 billion dollars annually to eligible schools and public libraries in the United States to obtain technology.
E-rate may provide discounts of 20% to 90% to an eligible organization and assistance is eligible for the most basic of technology requests, such as discounts on local and long distance phone charges, all the way to the most innovative equipment available. Polycom video bridges, video conferencing, and voice equipment generally fall under eligible Priority 2 funding. Distance learning service (such as interactive video services where the customer does not own the equipment) generally fall under eligible Priority 1 funding. The discount available is typically based on the number of students in the local school district eligible for the National School Lunch Program.
Eligible entities, such as public schools and libraries, must apply on an annual basis for E-rate discounts. Applications are made online to the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The SLD reviews applications before making a funding decision. For a period of five years from the date of funding, the SLD may audit the funding request to ensure that the service and/or equipment procured with E-rate funds continue to meet federal E-rate regulations, as codified by the Federal Communications Commission.
How Can Polycom Help?
Polycom offers a wide range of services to help you understand and navigate the E-rate program's complex requirements:
- Answering general questions about the program, including required forms, required certifications, deadlines, and timing
- Assisting with specific, detailed questions on product eligibility and Item 21 preparation
- Providing useful resources, including general, educational webinars and links to contacts and helpful organizations