This next section will answer some general questions about E-Rate. For help on E-Rate, contact the the Statewide Consulting Librarian who works with the program. The Consultant will send E-Rate news to Wired-MT, another great reason to subscribe to this listserv. Information and updates on the E-rate program are posted to Montana Public Library E-Rate blog http://mtlibraryerate.blogspot.com/. Another resource is the website for E-Rate, which is at http://www.universalservice.org/sl/. This is the official website with forms, information and how-to guides.

E-Rate Offical Website

What is E-Rate?

E-Rate provides discounts for services related to connectivity, for example Internet access, telecommunications (your phone line), and internal connections (the stuff that makes it all happen). Discounts can range from 20-90% of your costs. Your discount is based on the poverty level in your area. The School and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company administers E-Rate.

Why apply for E-Rate?

It saves you money. The amount of paperwork required increases with the amount of money requested. That's why many Montana public libraries choose to apply for only basic telephone discounts. But E-Rate can help make the greater bandwidth you want and need more affordable for your library. Plus you have help.

How to Apply?

To apply for E-Rate, visit the SLD website at http://www.universalservice.org/sl/. You will find the forms on the website. NOTE: If you apply for help with Internet costs then you must have a technology plan that is updated every 3 years. The good news is you probably already have one for your library. According to SLD, your plan must have the following components:

  • Clear goals and a realistic strategy for using technology to improve library services.
  • A continuing education strategy to ensure that staff knows how to use the technology.
  • An assessment of your technology and what will be needed to improve services.
  • A sufficient budget to support technology and its use in your library.
  • An evaluation process that tells you if you've met your goals.

E-Rate Timetable of Deadlines

(Adapted from SLD's "E-Rate Discounts for Schools and Libraries")

Funding Year

July 1 through the following June 30

Form 470

Posted at least 28 days before the filing of Form 471. Form 470 is a description of the services you are requesting.

Form 471 window

Early November to mid-January preceding the start of the Funding Year (exact dates for each funding year will be posted on the website)

Form 471

Form 471 is the actual request for funding.

Form 486

Received or postmarked no later than 120 days after the dates of the Funding Commitment Decision Letter or 120 days after the Service Start Date, whichever is later. Form 486 tells SLD that services have started. The Funding Commitment Decision Letter identifies what services SLD will be paying for and what portion of those services will be paid for.

Form 472/474

Received or postmarked no later than 120 days after the date of Form 486 Notification Letter or 120 days after the last date to receive service, whichever is later. Form 472 is the invoice you must send to SLD to receive payment.

Montana Public Library E-Rate Blog

ASPeN: The New Library Directory

Events Calendar