Helping Tribal Libraries Connect
Through the E-Rate Program
Helping Tribal Libraries Connect
Close the Homework Gap

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Encourages Tribal Libraries to Apply for E-Rate Support

 

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FCC Announces New Tribal Libraries Pilot Program: To help Tribal libraries that are new to the E-Rate program, the FCC is announcing a new pilot program to provide one-on-one assistance to applicants seeking E-Rate support during the upcoming funding year.

FY2022 E-Rate Application Deadline for New Tribal Libraries Order: WCB grants a waiver of the funding year 2022 application filing deadline and directs USAC to treat as timely filed all applications with a new Tribal library entity that are filed within 65 days of the application filing window deadline. (Word | PDF)

More FCC Action on Tribal Libraries

The FCC's E-Rate program makes telecommunications and information services more affordable by providing discounts to eligible schools and libraries, including Tribal libraries.

The E-Rate program is administered by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) under the direction of the FCC. USAC is responsible for processing the applications for support, confirming eligibility, and reimbursing service providers and eligible schools and libraries for discounted services.

Who is eligible for E-Rate funding?

Public or private schools (K-12), libraries, and groups of schools and libraries, such as consortia, districts, and systems, are eligible to apply for discounts on eligible services.

The FCC adopted a Report and Order in January 2022 that updates the E-Rate rules to include "Tribal library" in the definition of a "library," and clarifies that Tribal libraries are eligible for support through the E-Rate program.

What constitutes a Tribal library eligible for E-Rate support?

Tribal government entities can designate a library as a Tribal library, such as through a Tribal Resolution.

Tribal libraries should also be able to demonstrate three basic characteristics of a library:

  • Regularly scheduled hours
  • Staff
  • Materials available for library users

Tribal libraries may also work with their state library administrative agency where they are located.

Tribal libraries that are part of a college or university are ineligible for E-Rate support. Under the E-Rate program rules, libraries must be independent from any schools to be eligible. Tribal libraries that are part of a Tribal elementary school should coordinate with the school to seek E-rate support.

Designating your library's status as a Tribal library

The FCC strongly encourages Tribal entities to self-identify as a Tribal school or library by checking the box in the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) if:

  • The majority of students or library patrons served are Tribal members.
  • The entity is located partially or entirely on Tribal land.
  • The entity is a school operated by, or receiving funding from, the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).
  • The entity is a school or library operated by a Tribal Nation.

Checking the box helps the FCC and USAC understand who is participating in the program and can help the FCC to better target E-Rate.

What services are eligible for E-Rate discounts?

There are two categories of service that are eligible for funding.

  • Category one provides connectivity to a school or library building, which includes telecommunications services and internet access (for example, the fiber or cable broadband connection to the library).
  • Category two provides internet access within schools or libraries, which includes internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services, for example, the equipment needed within a library to provide Wi-Fi to patrons.

More information about eligible services, including the current list of services eligible for support, can be found on USAC's web page. Discounts on eligible services range from 20 to 90 percent, depending on the level of poverty and whether the school or library is located in an urban or rural area.

How much funding is available?

E-Rate program funding is based on demand with an annual FCC-established cap of $4.456 billion for funding year 2022. In funding year 2022, schools and libraries requested $3.15 billion in E-Rate support.

How does the E-Rate program work?

The process starts with identifying the services you need and then submitting a request for competitive bids (FCC Form 470) for those services to USAC. USAC will then post these requests on its website for service providers to bid on.

After waiting at least 28 days and evaluating all the bids received, you then select the most cost-effective eligible services and equipment, using price as the primary factor. After you sign a contract or establish a service agreement, you may then seek discounts for services by submitting an FCC Form 471 application within the filing window.

After reviewing the applications, USAC will issue you a funding commitment and you can begin receiving discounts on the services that USAC has approved. Once services begin, applicants must confirm to USAC and report status by submitting an FCC Form 486. After FCC Form 486 has been processed by USAC, either the applicant or their service provider can begin the process of invoicing USAC for reimbursement of the approved discounts.

All forms are submitted through the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC), which is the account and application management portal for the E-Rate program. E-Rate program participants use this tool to manage program processes, receive notifications, and contact customer service.

Timeline

Applications for the E-Rate program are submitted, and commitments are made, by the funding year, which runs from July 1 through the following June 30. The forms must be filed during the specific filing windows, which are announced each year.

Need Help?

Learn more about the new Tribal libraries pilot program and how to apply.

USAC E-Rate Customer Service Center

  • Call (888) 203-8100
  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET

Frequently Asked Questions about Tribal Libraries and E-Rate.

USAC is the administrator of the four federal Universal Service Fund Programs, including the E-Rate Program, as well as the Affordable Connectivity Program, an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.


FCC Office of Native Affairs and Policy

The Office of Native Affairs and Policy (ONAP) assists the Commission in developing policies and programs to address the lack of adequate communications services on Tribal lands nationwide.

Contact ONAP: Email the ONAP Team or call 202-418-2930.

ONAP is also responsible for overseeing the work of the Native Nations Communications Task Force.

FCC News Media Contacts

Paloma Isabel Perez
FCC Press Secretary
paloma.perez@fcc.gov

Anne Veigle
Deputy Director, Office of Media Relations
anne.veigle@fcc.gov

Office of Media Relations
mediarelations@fcc.gov
202-418-0500

 

 

Updated: 
Monday, November 21, 2022