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 recently, 4CLS applied as a library system.  The USAC has determined that only libraries with branches can file as library systems.  Beginning in 2016, 4CLS will have to file as a library consortium.  Accordingly, each online library needs to:

  • Have an Internet Safety Policy (as required by CIPA- see below) that was discussed at a public meeting & send documentation (meeting notice, agenda, minutes, etc) to 4CLS
    • 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
  • Complete & sign Form 479 (sent to the libraries via delivery)

Without the above information, a library cannot be included as part of our e-rate application.

E-Rate Conference Call –  On March 8, 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.

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