About "USF" and "E-rate" Discounts


When Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued the rules that implement this act.  One part of this statute established a Universal Service Fund (USF) that allows schools and public libraries to apply for discounts for telecommunication services and technologies. Depending on the demographic characteristics of your community, these discounts could be very substantial. Check to see what discount percentage your library is eligible for. To receive these discounts, accredited public libraries must apply to the Federal Government for them annually.

To be eligible for these discounts, a library applicant must meet the statutory definition of library or library consortium found in the 1996 Library Services and Technology Act (Pub. L. 104-208) (LSTA) and must be eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under that Act.  For purposes of LSTA, the State Library has discretion with regard to the eligibility of applicants. In Texas, a library must be accredited. For more information about accreditation, please contact Stacey Malek, Program Coordinator 512-463-5532, smalek@tsl.texas.gov.

You can find more information about this program and the application process at the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) website, which is one of the programs administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)

See also the following resources for related information:

  • What is E-rate? The American Library Association maintains these pages with extensive information about the background of the USF, the ALA e-rate task force, ALA filings related to e-rate, and relevant publications (in PDF format).
  • "Rethinking the E-Rate". Article by Carrie Lowe for American Libraries, October 2008

Have questions about E-rate?  Please contact :

Henry Stokes
State E-rate Coordinator
hstokes@tsl.texas.gov
512-463-6624

Page last modified: June 23, 2015