Since its inception, E-rate has been instrumental in making K-12 broadband more affordable and accessible than ever. When this FCC program was amended in 2014 (through the E-rate Modernization Order), it included rules providing additional funding to match any funding the state provided for eligible “special construction charges.” These charges are the design, engineering, project management, and construction costs related to the building of new broadband infrastructure.
That meant that, in addition to the funding a school district could receive through E-rate, the district’s state was incentivized to further cover the costs of their broadband upgrade. Since the upfront costs of broadband construction can be high, this was a critical change for school districts with limited resources for an upgrade.
Specifically, these rules allow the FCC’s E-rate program to provide up to an additional 10% to match any appropriated state funding for special construction on a one-to-one dollar basis. This presents school districts with an unprecedented opportunity to connect their schools.
Does Your State Have a Matching Fund?
A number of states have appropriated funds for a state match to support school districts in connecting to high-speed broadband services. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has a process for verifying that the state funds meet all eligibility requirements and makes public the list of eligible state matching funds on its website.
Important Requirement To Receive State Matching Funds
As part of the state match review for a special construction project, USAC’s review process also considers compliance with the FCC’s long-term per-student bandwidth goals.
The FCC adopted these standards as part of the E-rate Modernization Order. As a result, districts that wish to be funded for additional FCC E-rate match funding are expected to adhere to the following requirement:
The underlying technology being constructed and the signed contract must both allow an applicant to scale to the long term bandwidth goals of 1 Mbps per student on an Internet access connection and 10 Mbps per student on a WAN connection.
In other words, the applicant does not need to receive those speeds on day one of the service, but must be able to upgrade to those speeds during the life of the contract.
Calculating Matching Funds at a District/E-rate Applicant Level
Click the links below to view detailed examples of how E-rate State Matching Funds are calculated and utilized by districts applying for funding.
- Lit Fiber with Special Construction
- Leased Dark Fiber with Special Construction
- Consortium self-provisioned fiber solution
Learn more about funding sources for district broadband upgrades.