Head Start & E-Rate

screenshot of Universal Service Administrative Company website

Eligible Head Start programs can lower telephone and Internet costs through E-Rate discounts. E-Rate supports Internet connectivity. Internet access connects Head Start grantees to program resources and distance learning opportunities that allow grantees to meet the education requirements outlined in the Head Start Act.

Important Information on Second E-Rate Modernization Order

On Dec. 11, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the Second E-Rate Modernization Order. Its goal is to make high speed connectivity accessible for all schools and libraries and to increase the E-Rate spending cap from $2.9 billion to $3.9 billion. The order is in response to the tremendous technological advances over the last 18 years since the E-Rate program was established.

The FCC has been collecting data over the past year, revealing a connectivity gap within public schools. Public schools are the primary recipients of E-rate funds. The increase in funding looks to close that gap by lowering the price schools and libraries pay for high speed connectivity. The official press release [PDF, 129KB] details the FCC's data collection findings and specific details enacted by the new order. The FCC also has posted a helpful summary on their website, Summary of the Second E-Rate Modernization Order. It highlights some of the ways that the order is improving the administration of the program.

There are many provisions in the new order. One in particular recognizes the higher costs and difficulty some rural and tribal programs have with connectivity. It has provisions for funding certain geographic areas and increasing support to mirror the level of funding of services in urban areas. The order also has identified expected savings within the E-Rate program through the phase out of support for outdated, non-broadband services such pagers and voice services.

E-rate eligibility for Head Start programs is determined by the state in which the grantee agency operates. Funding is available only to those grantees that are operating within states that have designated Head Start as an eligible entity. State eligibility for Head Start programs is detailed in a useful matrix on the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) website. Once you have verified eligibility, be sure to review the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Eligible Services List [PDF, 141KB] for details on products and services that are eligible for E-rate discounts in FY 2015.

The Office of Head Start (OHS) has released two Information Memorandums (IMs) to help explain the E-Rate program and how it relates to Head Start. ACF-IM-HS-06-07 reviews the application process. ACF-IM-HS-12-09 discusses E-Rate discount options.

Basic information about the E-Rate program and details on what Head Start programs need to know can be found on USAC's Getting Started page. The USAC website also has an Online Learning Library. It includes webinars, videos, and interactive modules to help you understand the E-Rate program, complete forms, and to clarify program compliance requirements.

You can always connect to the USAC website and other useful sites from this page. To learn more, please contact your Regional Office.

Head Start & E-Rate. HHS/ACF/OHS/NCPMFO. 2015. English.

Last Reviewed: February 2015

Last Updated: February 10, 2015