E-Rate Changes 2023

While there are no specific changes for E-Rate for Funding year 2023, here are the highlights of the latest changes:

  • Ensuring affordable access to high speed broadband sufficient to support digital learning in schools and robust connectivity for all libraries
  • Maximize the cost effectiveness of spending for E-Rate supported purchases
  • Making the E-Rate application process and other E-Rate processes fast, simple and efficient

The FCC released a Report and Order modernizing the E-Rate Program, back in 2019, and it has some new rules that may impact your school or library.  You can read the whole Report and Order here, or you can see our summary below.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

  • Funding Year 2021: All applicant budgets will reset
    • There will be FIXED Five-year budget cycles (2021-2025, 2026-2030, etc.)
      • Budgets will be reset for everyone at the beginning of each five-year cycle.
      • Unspent funds from one funding cycle WILL NOT roll over to a new cycle.
      • Only full-time students will be counted (not part-time students).
      • There will be no more estimations of enrollment for new building construction, unless you are a new school that has not yet opened.
    • Schools
      • The per-student budget amount will be $167 per student starting in Funding Year 2021/2022.
        • The budget will NOT be increased every year with inflation. It will only change every 5 years (at the start of the new budget cycles).
      • The budgets will be determined by student count at the beginning of each five-year cycle. You can update your student counts or library square footage if it increases during the five-year cycle.
    • Libraries
      • A single pre-discount multiplier of $4.50 per square foot will be used for all libraries regardless of geography.
  • Managed Internal Broadband Services, caching, and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections will be permanently eligible.
  • The minimum Category 2 budget for each school and library will be increased from $9,200 to $25,000 starting in 2021/2022.
  • District-wide/library system wide budgets will be adopted
    • There will be no more per school budgets for districts.
    • The budgets will be calculated by aggregate total students or, if your district has 10 locations or less, you may choose to calculate your budget by calculating each site’s individual budget and then adding them together.
  • Filtering technology to ensure compliance with CIPA will remain ineligible for Category 2 funding.
  • Equipment transfer rules, within districts, will be eliminated but applicants must still track any transfers.
  • NIFs still do not get a Category 2 budget and they must be cost allocated out of FRN’s.

If you find the E-Rate program too time consuming, too confusing or too complicated, that’s where we can help.  Please do not hesitate to reach out and one of our consultants will be in touch with you within 24 hours.

2023 E-Rate Changes are Here!

For immediate help or clarity on the new 2023 E-Rate guidelines, please call us now.  We are standing by to help secure your funding.

(908) 892-0705

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Previous E-Rate Changes from 2015

For the 2015 E-rate year the program got its first ever major overhaul with 3 goals in mind.

  • Ensuring affordable access to high speed broadband sufficient to support digital learning in schools and robust connectivity for all libraries
  • Maximize the cost effectiveness of spending for E-Rate supported purchases
  • Making the E-Rate application process and other E-Rate processes fast, simple and efficient

2015 E-Rate Changes

Broadband Bench Marks for:


  • 100mbps per 1000 students short term
  • The goal of 1 gbps per 1000 long term


  • 100 mbps for libraries with less than 50,000 users
  • 1 gbps for libraries with more than 50,000 users

Changes: Category I and Category II:

The funding buckets change from Priority I and Priority II to Category I and Category II.

  • Category I includes:

    • Voice, at a reduced rate and for a limited time • Broadband
  • Category II includes:

    • Routers • Switching
    • Wireless access points • Cabling
    • Racks • Controllers
    • UPS’s • Software
    • Cloud based controllers • Basic maintenance of Wi-Fi equipment
    • Managed Wi-Fi • Obtained LAN/WLAN’s as a managed service for 3-5 years
    • Caching services • Firewall service
  • Services Eliminated Immediately - No Funding in FY 2015

    • Paging • Web-hosting
    • Directory Assistance • Texting
    • E-mail • DID’s
    • Voice mail
  • Voice service Phase down

    • Voice service support will be phased down over a 5 year period, including cell phone service.
    • If you are a 90% school, in year 2015, you will get a 70% discount on Voice service
      2016 = 50%
      2017 = 30% and so on until you no longer get support on voice service.
    • Your phased down discount percentage is determined by your actual discount percentage in the year that you apply
  • Broadband

    • Broadband services will still be supported
  • Category I

    Will still comprise voice and internet services, while voice will be phased down over the next 5 years, and will be supported by $2.25 billion a year.
    Category I services will still get first priority in E-Rate support

  • Category II

    Will be supported by $1 billion a year from the FCC but will take secondary priority over Category I. This means that if demand for Category I exceeds their $2.25 billion then they will take whatever funds necessary from the Category II budget to fulfill that demand. On the other side of that, if demand for Category I services does not reach $2.25 billion, then that extra money can be rolled into the Category II budget. If there is any extra money from year to year it can be rolled over to the next funding year.

  • Category II discounts

    • The max discount for a Category II service is now 85%.
  • Category II budget

    USAC has instituted budgeting for Category II services. Schools get $150 per student and libraries get $2.30 a square foot. These budgets are a 5 year budget and are all the Category II funding you will receive.


    • If you are a school with 1,000 students and you’re a 80% school you would get $120,000 in Category II support for a 5 year period
      • (1,000 * 150 = $150,000*.8=$120,000)
    • If you are a 10,000 sq/ft library with an 80% discount you would get $18,400 in support for a 5 year period
      • (10,000 * 2.30 = 23,000 * .8 = $18,400)
  • Minimum Discount

    For those schools with less than 61 students they receive minimum discount of $9,200, pre discount Example:

    • If they are a 80% school they would receive $7,360 in support
      • (9,200 * .8 = $7,360)
  • Air Cards and Data Plans

    • Both air cars and data plans are both still eligible, at your school or library site. However, you have to demonstrate how they are more cost effective than using your own Wi-Fi network.

Process Changes

  • Tech Plans

    • Tech plans are no longer required for any e-rate support
  • Income Surveys

    You can no longer extrapolate your Income Surveys. In years past you could send every family in your school an income survey and as long as you got back 50%, or more, you would be able to extrapolate your entire population. You can no longer do this. Now you have to send out a survey to all families and count only those surveys you receive back, no extrapolation. Example. If you have 100 students, you send out 100 surveys and get back 50. All 50 students qualify. In years past you could have extrapolated that all 100 students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Now, you can only state that 50 students out of your 100 qualify for free and reduced lunch and you would be a 80% E-Rate school.

  • Installation of Category II Equipment

    You used to have to wait until July 1 or after before you could install your equipment. Now USAC is letting you install Category II equipment prior to your funding year. You can start installation on April 1. Example. If you are applying for funding for FY 2016, you can begin installation on April 1, 2016.

  • Item 21 Attachment

    In years past, USAC used to keep this pricing information private. Now they are going to be publishing pricing information on their website in a move to drive down prices

  • Community Eligibility Provision - CEP

    • In years past, if you participated in CEP you could not use this information you had to revert back to the last time you participated in NSLP. Now you can use your CEP discount for E-rate purposes
  • Preferred Master Contracts

    USAC may come up with Preferred Master Contracts for equipment. These would be national contracts for use during your vendor selection.

    • These may be exempt from Competitive bidding rules
    • These may be mandatory for all bid evaluations, even it you don’t purchase off one of them
  • Invoicing

    In years past, when a school or library filed a BEAR form the money would flow from USAC to the service provider then back to the school or library. Starting in funding year 2016, when you file a BEAR form the money will flow from USAC directly to the school or library. However, the school or library will be required to have their banking info on file with USAC because they will only use Electronic Funds Transfer.

  • Inspector

    • Now when you take E-Rate funding you must allow auditors, investigators, attorneys, and other appointed personnel to enter your premises to conduct E-Rate compliance inspections.
  • Document Retention

    • The document retention requirement went from 5 years from the last day to receive service to 10 years from the last day to receive service.

Contact Us Today!

(908) 892-0705

Whether you are looking for a consultant or just have questions about the E-Rate program, we would love to hear from you and help in any way that we can. There is no obligation in giving us a call to see if our services would be a right fit for your Organization.

We are a full-service E-Rate consulting company, and we have been helping Schools and Libraries with their E-Rate applications for over 15 years. We take our clients from the beginning stages of the E-Rate application process all the way through to receiving a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) and getting the funds deposited into the school’s account.

Please reach out to us, and one of our dedicated consultants will return your message within 24 hours. Thank you.

The E-Rate Program can be Confusing and Time Consuming
We Would Love to Help!
Submit my Information