The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has announced the application window for federal E-Rate funding is now open. From Jan. 12, accredited Texas public libraries can apply to receive discounts on monthly Internet access costs and most anything to do with bringing high-speed Internet to the library (including equipment and cabling).
E-rate was created to ensure schools and libraries have access to affordable high-speed broadband to support digital learning and robust connectivity. It is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In Texas, a majority of public libraries are eligible for an 80% discount, with more than a quarter eligible for a whopping 90%. That means most participating libraries only have to pay 10-20% of their Internet costs, with E-rate paying the rest of the bill. High-speed Internet (aka “broadband”) has become a necessity in public libraries, and E-rate is the chief means to support and sustain this crucial service as costs rise and demand increases. This is non-competitive funding—a library just has to fill out the forms correctly to receive the discount. Libraries must be accredited by TSLAC in order to be eligible for E-rate discounts.
This year, TSLAC has partnered with professional coaching firm E-Rate Central to make applying as straightforward as possible for participating libraries. This one-on-one support will guide applicants successfully through the entire process.
“Why should your library participate in E-rate and use our free coaches? E-rate is the main method available to public libraries to acquire and afford faster speed, and then continue to sustain those costs into the future,” said TSLAC Director and State Librarian Gloria Meraz. “Faster speed means that Texas libraries are able to continue providing the myriad services that heavily rely on high-speed broadband and have rapidly become the lifeline for living successfully in the 21st century.”
Accredited Texas public libraries are encouraged to apply well before the deadline of February 22, 2022 which is the last possible date to ensure participation. Visit www.tsl.texas.gov/erate to learn more and email Henry Stokes to get the process started.