E-Rate and Cisco Solutions for Schools and Communities

Leading a Digital Transformation

How to use E-Rate and the power of digital to transform education. (PDF - 9.0 MB).

Leading a Digital Transformation

Making Cost-Effective Connections

Would you like to provide access to 21st century technologies to your urban, rural, and low-income schools and communities? Enhance your purchasing power and stretch your budget? Speed the deployment of your IT services? If so, you will want to learn more about this program.

Officially known as Universal Service Funding for Schools and Libraries, the E-Rate program was created as part of the U.S. Telecommunications Act of 1996 to connect schools and libraries to the Internet. E-Rate program policies are designed to promote competition between service providers and help institutions connect to the Internet cost-effectively. The program is funded with approximately $3.9 billion dollars annually from the Universal Service Fund.

E-Rate Discounts

E-Rate discounts can range from 20 to 90 percent on eligible services. Applicants calculate their discount rate based on the number of students eligible for participation in the National School Lunch Program (the "free and reduced" lunch program administered by the USDA.) The discount rate is meant to represent an accurate picture to the relative poverty level of a certain geographic area. It also takes into consideration whether the applicant is located in a rural or urban area.

The types of products and services eligible for E-Rate discounts fall into four broad categories:

  • Telecommunications Services
  • Internet Access
  • Internal Connections (networking infrastructure products)
  • Basic Maintenance

Cisco has a variety of offerings that are eligible for Priority 1 and Priority 2 E-Rate discounts.

In order for your school or library to be eligible for the program it must be either:

  • an elementary or secondary school as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(20 U.S.C. $ 7801(1 8) and (38)
  • A library or library consortium as defined by the 1996 Library Services and Technology Act (Pub. L. No. 10-208) (LSTA)

Eligible schools or libraries also need to meet these criteria:

  • Must not operate on a for-profit basis
  • Must not have an endowment greater than $50 million
  • May be a public or private institution, a day or residential school, or a public charter school (including a religious school)

Learn how the Cisco E-Rate Program helps support and create opportunities for K-12 customers eligible for Federal E-Rate funding for Cisco solutions.

For more information, contact your Cisco Account Manager or send an email.