CCSA Answers: Value of E-Rate for Charter Schools

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February 1, 2015

Question: In a nutshell, what value does E-Rate offer my Charter?

Answer: E-Rate is a federal discount program that offers at least 20% and up to 90% discount on eligible technology services and infrastructure equipment including everything from telephone services and Internet connectivity to cabling and switches and wireless access points, as well as maintenance for those components. (Note that end user equipment, like computers and phones, are not eligible for support.) Recent changes to the E-Rate program mean that funding is being redirected to primarily focus on the provision of wireless broadband Internet connectivity to classrooms that will boost bandwidth to help meet requirements for Common Core standards and online testing. Each school's E-Rate discount is determined by the percentage of enrolled students eligible for the National School Lunch Program [NSLP] as shown in the table below:

Category 1 Discount %Category 2 Discount %
% students
eligible for NSLP
1 - 1940504050
20 - 3450605060
35 - 4960706070
50 - 7480808080
75 - 10090908585

These discount levels are designed to benefit all schools - even schools with zero students eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch qualify for 20% E-Rate discount. Further, when combined with California Teleconnect Fund [CTF], which discounts about 50% of the balance after E-Rate discounts are applied, even relatively affluent schools with only 20% E-Rate discount can receive up to a 60% discount for eligible services.