E-Rate is a federal program through which schools and libraries receive rebates on telecommunications costs.
Its proper name is the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund. It is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
4CLS uses E-Rate to significantly reduce the cost of connecting member libraries to the the ILS and the Internet.
Until 2016, 4CLS applied as a library system. The USAC then determined that only libraries with branches can file as library systems. Beginning in 2016, 4CLS must file as a library consortium. That process requires the following:
- Each library must have an Internet Safety Policy (as required by CIPA- see below) that was discussed at a public meeting. Documentation from that meeting (meeting notice, agenda, minutes, etc) must be sent to 4CLS. This only has to be done once, unless the policy is revised. If your library sent us a policy in 2016, and it has not changed, you have fulfilled this requirement.
- Sample Policy – Buffalo & Erie County (highlighted portions are area relating directly to the policy requirements).
- The public meeting can be a regular board meeting so long as notice of the policy discussion is included with the meeting announcement
- Send a Letter of Agency on library letterhead to 4CLS. This is an annual requirement.
- See boilerplate version – please customize with your library name, address, & letterhead
- Complete & sign Form 479 (sent to the libraries via delivery). This is an annual requirement.
Without the above materials, a library cannot be included as part of our e-rate application.
E-Rate Conference Call – On March 8, 2016, 4CLS held a conference call to field questions related to e-rate and the filing requirements. The questions & answers from the call are posted here.
If you have questions or concerns about the E-Rate program and the above requirements, contact Jeff Henry or Steve Bachman,
Internet Safety Policy Requirements
Schools and libraries receiving universal service discounts are required to adopt and enforce an Internet safety policy that includes a technology protection measure that protects against access by adults and minors to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or — with respect to use of computers with Internet access by minors — harmful to minors.
The Internet safety policy must address all of the following issues:
- Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web
- The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications
- Unauthorized access including “hacking” and other unlawful activities by minors online
- Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors
- Measures designed to restrict minors’ access to materials harmful to minors