Calculating Library E-rate Discounts

Post 21 E-rate discount for library or library system

The E-rate Program discount for libraries is based on the poverty level in the school district it (or its main branch) is located in, and its urban/rural status.

The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will calculate the discount as part of your form. But to see it in advance, you need to calculate the discount yourself. Today we’ll cover how to calculate E-rate discounts for libraries and library systems.

Calculate your library’s discount

An independent library is a library that is individually responsible for its finances and administration (it does not apply to E-rate as part of a library system). Here’s how to calculate your discount level:

Individual library discount calculation

EPC automatically calculates your discount based on your profile.

  1. Begin by identifying the school district where your library is located.
    • Library systems: Use the school system where your main branch is located.
  2. Then, use the poverty level of your local school district.
    • This information will populate automatically in EPC from your local school district’s profile. If information populating in your profile is blank or incorrect, contact us and we can help you get in touch with the school district.
  3. Look the library’s geographical status using the Urban/Rural Lookup Tool
    • Here are instructions for using the tool
    • Library Systems: If more than 50% libraries in the system are considered rural, the whole system is eligible for a rural discount. Otherwise, the system must use the urban discount. Non-instructional facilities are not counted in the system’s urban/rural determination.
  4. Use the local school district’s poverty level and your library’s urban/rural status to look up your discounts with this discount matrix.
    • The Category One discount applies to data transmission, internet access, and voice services,* and
    • The Category Two discount applies to internal connections, managed internal broadband services, and basic maintenance of internal connections.

What’s a main branch?

A library system applies for E-rate funding on behalf of the libraries in its system. Library systems determine their urban/rural status based on the location of its “main branch.”

For some libraries, identifying the main branch is pretty straightforward (see Option #1, below). If you’re not sure which building is the main branch, identify it using one of these three methods:

Option #1: Known main library
If there is an identified and known central outlet/main library branch, use it as your main branch.

Option #2: Where you conduct official library business
If no library is easily identified as the main branch, use the library building where official library business is transacted or mail is sent. But, the location cannot be a non-instructional facility.

Option #3: Pick the best option
If you cannot use Option #1 or #2, designate a library as the main branch. Document your rationale for designating that location as the main branch, and retain that documentation in case the E-rate Program has a question about your selection during application review.

An independent library is its own main branch. When you’re applying online in EPC, it will automatically designate the single, independent library as the main branch.

Discount for an annex

Some libraries have more than one building. We call this an “annex” – a secondary site that is still considered part of the same library.

An annex does not have its own budget. The library and its annexes share a Category Two budget.

If the independent library includes a non-instructional facility (building without a public area), add it as an annex.

Bookmobiles and kiosks

Library system discount calculation

EPC automatically calculates your discount based on your profile.

Bookmobiles and kiosks are usually classified as an “annex.” But, you may claim them as a branch if your State Library Agency allows it.

To add a bookmobile and/or kiosk as a branch on your funding application, you’ll need to classify the library building as a “library system” in EPC, then add the bookmobile and/or kiosk as a branch. Learn more about this in our post about managing organization relationships.

Library systems

In a library system, the outlets, branches, and non-instructional facilities all use the system’s discount level, regardless of their physical (urban/rural) location and regardless of whether the service is used by one, some, or all libraries in the system.

More about calculating discounts for libraries

More information is available on the Calculating Discounts page of Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program website about special circumstances including new construction, library outlets and branches.

There’s also a webinar recording about this topic:

Webinar recording: Simplifying Discount Calculations (25:54 minutes)

Simplifying E-rate Discounts Webinar

Next, we’ll talk about calculating discounts for consortia. And beginning next week (March 21), we’ll cover Category 2 budgets.


* Voice services are subject to a phase down of 20% per year starting with Funding Year (FY) 2015. So for the upcoming funding year (FY2016), the voice services discount is reduced by 40%. For example, a library that is eligible for an 80 percent discount for Category One services will only receive a 40 percent discount on voice services for FY2016 due to the phasedown.

Editor’s note: If you submitted FCC Form 470 on the same day we wrote about it on the blog (March 3), then at this point you’ll be in the 28-day waiting period. During the 28-day period, we’re covering general information about program rules and topics that are important to know about. We’ll begin posting about FCC Form 471, the funding request form, starting the week of April 4.


  1. Pingback: Inputs to your Category Two budget calculation | File Along With Me

  2. Pingback: Review Entity and Discount Information | File Along With Me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *