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What is Erate?

Tax season is here, and I often feel quite grumpy about it. So, when are taxes good? When it helps schools and libraries bring much needed technology to their students and patrons! 

Take a close look at your mobile or landline phone bill. You will see a surcharge called the Federal Universal Service Charge (or Universal Connectivity Charge). These charges are commonly listed under taxes and surcharges on your bill. A lot of us don’t notice this fine print or these small taxes and surcharges. Most of us don’t know what these surcharges are for, and even though no one likes to pay extra taxes, we pay them anyway. 

As mentioned above,  the Universal Service Charge is a tax for a good cause. This surcharge/tax helps pay for a portion of the costs for high-speed Internet service and much-needed equipment to schools, libraries, low-income consumers, rural healthcare providers and consumers in rural areas. 

Details About Erate:

The Erate program is known by several different names, including USAC, Erate, and Schools and Libraries, but as a famous Playwright/Poet once surmised, “What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (W. Shakespeare c. 1600). I digress.

We lovingly refer to this program as Erate, and the funds from the Universal Service charges are disbursed through USAC to the Erate program to specifically benefit schools and libraries. Schools will be the focus of our blog series. An important note is that the eligible equipment mentioned above does not include laptops or Chromebooks. Funding is for internal infrastructure equipment like switches and access points that schools and libraries need to provide wireless Internet access. This program, unfortunately, does not pay for laptops, printers or smart boards and the like. 

The Erate Grant year currently runs from July 1-June 30 each year. The 2022 Funding year application window closes on March 22, 2022. There are multiple steps to take and forms with a bunch of numbers instead of names to submit. You might think you still have a lot of time check off everything else on your to do list, but you should put Erate at the top. There are multiple forms, and open bid process, regulations and pitfalls to avoid.

For More Info:

 Over the next few weeks, we will discuss the Erate process in more detail to include:

  • The needs assessment 
  • Form 470 and the open bid process
  • Choosing Service Providers and Filing the application (Form 471)

Grant Consulting Services, LLC has over 14 years of experience in the Erate process and has helped multiple schools across the nation receive millions of dollars for much-needed technology. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you maximize your technology dollars through the Erate program. 

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