What is E-Rate?
E-rate is a federal program that provides eligible K-12 public schools and libraries with 20% to 90% discounts on approved telecommunications services, Internet access, and internal connections costs. The program was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which expanded the obligation of telecommunications providers to make affordable (discounted) telecommunications and information services available to the nation's schools and libraries.
The official name for the E-rate program is the "Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund," which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In 2006, the E-rate (Education Rate) program provided over $238 million in technology discounts to California K-12 schools and libraries.
All K-12 schools qualify for the program and receive discounts according to their level of economic disadvantage (based on the percentage of students eligible for the national school lunch program) and their location (rural or urban). Schools and libraries in low-income urban communities and rural areas qualify for higher discounts.
Although the E-rate application process can be difficult, the California Department of Education recommends that every school district should consider applying for E-rate discounts.
The California Department of Education and K-12 High Speed Network team up each fall to provide statewide E-rate training sessions (beginner to advanced). The sessions are available in person, via videoconference, and via webcast. Upcoming training information, as well as archived training materials, are provided on the K12HSN web site: http://www.k12hsn.org/programs/erate/.
In addition, USAC provides several new video tutorials to assist with the E-rate application process. Topics include:
Seven Steps to a Successful Application Process
Form 470 Online Tutorial
Form 470 Interview Tutorial
Form 471 Interview Tutorial
The tutorials are available at: http://www.universalservice.org/sl/about/video-tutorials/default.aspx.
Sign up to receive E-rate updates via email from the California Department of Education: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/et/ft/eratelyrisserv.asp.
What is CTF?
The California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) offers discounts for measured business services, as well as high bandwidth data lines. Although CTF discounts cover a smaller menu of eligible services, the CTF application process is simpler than E-rate. Applications for CTF discounts are submitted to the telecommunications carrier, who will submit the completed eligible application to the California Public Utilities Commission Telecommunication Division. When the application is approved, the telecommunications carrier will discount the telecommunications to the school.
CTF information is available at: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/Telco/Public+Programs/CTF/.
Source: CA Department of Education http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/et/ft/eratemain.asp