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What Is Erate?

Pumpkin spice everything and jack-o-lanterns signal the beginning of a new Erate “Season” at Grant Consulting Services, LLC.  Are you wondering what Erate is? 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. 

In this case, 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. 

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’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (W. Shakespeare c. 1600), but I digress. We lovingly refer to this program as Erate.

What Are Erate Funds For?

The funds from the Universal Service charges are dispersed through USAC to the Erate program to specifically benefit schools and libraries. These entities 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. 

How To Apply

The E-rate Grant year currently runs from July 1-June 30 each year. Much like college basketball, the Erate season generally starts in October and can last until mid-March. There are multiple steps to take and forms with a bunch of numbers instead of names to submit. This dizzying process can feel like being lost in a corn maze. There are specific rules, regulations and pitfalls to avoid.

 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)
  • Pre-Award Audits
  • Post Award Compliance

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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