With the E-rate filing window deadline rapidly approaching (Form 471s are due April 29th), it’s time to get those applications in. If E-rate is new to you, there are many resources available to help you understand the program and process, including several Cisco resources we’ll discuss below.

What Do You Need to Know Now?

The E-rate program provides $3.9B worth of discounts each year on certain services and products that are essential for classrooms and libraries to obtain high-speed Internet access and telecommunications equipment. The discount ranges from 20% to 85% for Category 2 on premise equipment, which means that in some cases, schools can make technology purchases using their budget to fund just 15% of the overall cost. What is especially important to know this year is that USAC has added $1.9B in rollover funding from previous years. Experts anticipate that all 2016 Category 2 applications that are done correctly and on time will be funded. This is an unprecedented opportunity for schools and libraries to take advantage of E-rate funding!

What Can E-Rate Do for You?

Schools today are becoming increasingly digitized – that is, leveraging technology to help improve outcomes for students, teachers, and administrations alike. Using digital tools in the classroom is improving the learning experience, expanding access to education, and creating new opportunities for students all across the country. But often, schools don’t have the technological infrastructure needed to support digital tools like online courses, digital textbooks, or video streaming and conferencing. And the necessary infrastructure upgrades can often be costly. That’s where the E-rate program comes in – it can help your school and district afford the necessary infrastructure upgrades you need to embrace the digital revolution!


So What Next?

Visit the USAC website (the E-rate program administrator) for program information and application forms. Form 470s must be posted a minimum of 28 days prior to the Form 471s, so be aware that the 470 deadline is April 1st. Also, check out this special report from Cisco and eSchool News for a brief overview of the E-rate Modernization Order and to learn how E-rate can be used to help lead a digital transformation in K-12 education. You can learn more about E-rate and alternative funding options here, you can browse and search our database for Cisco product E-rate eligibility, and if you have any questions you can ask our helpdesk.

Be on the lookout for more blog posts in the coming weeks that highlight the great things that some of our Cisco customers have been able to do with their E-rate funding!


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group