Making E-Rate Make Sense

We’ve all heard about the massive changes to E-rate over the last couple of years. As we’re in the midst of filing for the 2016–2017 year, there are some changes that you don’t want to miss. You have probably heard there is less money for telephone services this year. Don’t let that get you down! It just means there’s even more money to support broadband access and connectivity. Since we have a legacy of providing access to information to the public that dates back to earliest days of our national independence, we also know that we often have historical, beautiful buildings that had no way to predict the cabling and WiFi needs of today. The FCC wants to help us get past those and other obstacles, and improve our ability to keep our citizenry informed. In this free webinar OITP staff and guests will touch on E-rate as a program, but really delve into some tools you want to have handy when you’re filing this year—and in years to come! Originally presented March 3, 2016.

Watch the webinar:

And download the presentation.


1. If we already have an Internet Safety Policy in effect for years, do we need to have it [the public hearing] again?

Answer: The requirement to hold the public hearing says you must hold one. However, it is always good to educate your community about Internet safety. Holding a meeting annually is an easy way to do this. Some states may require annual meetings of on the policy as well. Be sure to check with your State Library.

2. If you have an audit, don’t they just ask for receipts that you have in the system and if it is in place [in regards to the filter]?

Answer: Audit: Successful Program Participation; CIPA: Documentation demonstrating an internet filter was in place during the funding year audited

  • Copy of the filter log OR
  • Service provider bills for the purchase and/or renewal of the filter along with proof of payment

3. What must be blocked by the filter?

Answer: The protection measures must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are: (a) obscene; (b) child pornography; or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors). 

4. In the case of an audit, they care that you do filter, not what you filter, correct? The auditors won’t get into value judgements about what is filtered?

Answer: That is correct. CIPA requires that you filter images that are obscene and child pornography. It does not name specific sites. 

5. How do I learn if my library is considered urban or rural so I can get the $5 or $2.30 per square foot format?

Answer: If your library has an IMLS locale code of 11, 12, or 21, your library is considered urban for the purposes of the category 2 budgets. You will have to download the latest data, then look for your library. This is another case where your E-rate State Coordinator may have mined this data for you already. You may want to start there. (NOTE: there is a different definition for urban/rural in this case than the Urban/Rural Look Up Tool provides.)