E-Rate Program

Making technology affordable for schools

E-rate provides eligible schools and libraries with telecommunications, internet access and internal connections projects at a discounted rate. Since 2008, Macro Connect has been an authorized E-Rate service provider and has provided internal connections, basic maintenance, and telecommunications services to over schools and districts across the Midwest. The depth of knowledge that Macro Connect brings to projects in this area is the result of over 250 Category 1 and Category 2 awards totaling over $8 million in hardware and services.

What is E-Rate?

Established as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the E-Rate program provides schools and libraries with funding for two categories of internet and communications services. In recent years, much of the Category Two funding has gone toward upgrading wired connections and expanding WiFi as schools transition to one-to-one, in-classroom computing.

Category 1

Category One services provide internet and other communications services to the buildings. A full list of eligible services can be found on page 4 of the official 2020 List, but a few examples include:

  • Cable Modems
  • Broadband over Power Lines
  • DSL
  • Ethernet
  • And more

Category 2

Category Two services provide equipment and services related to connectivity within the buildings. Again, a full list of eligible services can be found on page 4 of the official 2020 List, but a few examples include:

  • Antennas
  • Cabling
  • Firewall Services
  • Routers
  • Switches
  • Wireless Controller Systems
  • And more

How Does E-Rate Funding Work?

E-Rate funds are used to offset a portion of qualified expenses like internet connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services. Under the current approach, schools start with a “pre-discount” budget of $150 per student. In the past, that has been roughly $30 per student, per year. Then, based on the level of need, schools are eligible to receive E-Rate funding to cover 20%-90% (their discount rate) of the proposed costs, based on the free and reduced lunch student population. Let’s look at an example:

School A has 1,000 students in an urban area with a high rate of SNAP participation. This indicates a great need for financial assistance, which gives them a discount rate of 90%. They use the pre-discount rate of $150 per student to apply for $150,000 in E-Rate funding. If awarded, they can receive $135,000 (90% of $150,000) in E-Rate funding, having to provide the remaining $15,000 (10% of $150,000) for the project themselves. If a school has less than 62 students, they will receive a minimum of $9,200. This funding floor is also adjusted for inflation each year.

School districts could also share funds from across the district to pay for shared services although each school’s portion of those budgets had to be calculated, applied for, and paid for by each school separately.

If schools don’t spend their whole budget in one year, they can re-apply for the un-spent funding, but using a slightly higher, inflation-adjusted, pre-discount rate. Let’s go back to our example:

If School A only spent a total of $50,000, $50 per student, on Category Two services in 2015, they could re-apply for E-Rate funding in 2016 at an inflation-adjusted pre-discount rate of around $153 per student. That gives them a total of $153,000, minus the amount already spent, for a new pre-discount budget of $103,000.

Let’s Get Started!

Macro Connect is here to help you with E-Rate. Our experienced technology leaders, installers, and support staff have years of experience managing the ever-changing technology needs of schools in Detroit and across Southeast Michigan. Since 2008, Macro Connect has been an authorized E-Rate service provider and has been awarded internal connections, basic maintenance, and telecommunications services by over 40 schools, districts, and ISDs. The depth of knowledge that Macro Connect brings to projects in this area is the result of over 380 Category 2 awards totaling over $9.5 million in hardware and services.
Contact us today to make E-Rate work for you!

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Detroit, Michigan 48207

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