Calculating School E-rate Discounts

Post 20 Calculate your e-rate discount school district or school

The E-rate Program discount for a school district is based on its poverty level, and its urban/rural status.

The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will calculate the discount based on the information you provide in your school district’s profile. But to see it in advance, you can calculate the discount yourself. Today we’ll cover how to calculate E-rate discounts for school districts and schools.

Up until a few years ago, schools were allowed to calculate their own discount even if they were part of a school district. This is not the case anymore. If a school is part of a district, it has to use the district’s discount level.

Calculate your school district’s discount

A school district applies for E-rate funding on behalf of the schools in its district. Again, if your school is part of a district, it must use that district’s discount level. Here’s how to calculate your discount level:

Example e-rate discount calculation for school district

EPC automatically calculates your discount based on your profile.

  1. Start with
    • The total number of students in the district that are eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and
    •  The total number of students in the district.
  2. Calculate the percentage of students eligible for NSLP by dividing the first number by the second number.
    • You can also use an alternate discount mechanism, such as a survey.
    • If a school in your district participates in the NSLP’s community eligibility provision (CEP), you must use the direct certification percentage as part of your calculation. Learn how on the alternate discount mechanism page.
  3. Look the school’s geographical status using the Urban/Rural Lookup Tool
    • Here are instructions for using the tool
    • If more than 50% of the schools in the district are rural, the whole district is eligible for a rural discount. Otherwise, the district uses the urban discount. Non-instructional facilities are not counted in the district’s urban/rural determination.
  4. Use the percentage of students in NSLP and the 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. And remember, Category Two discounts are capped at 85%.

If the school is independent, it should calculate its discount using the percentage of NSLP students at the independent school, and its own urban/rural geographical status.

Discount for an annex

An “annex” is a secondary site of an individual school that is in a different physical location than the primary facility, but is still considered part of the same school.

Annexes do not affect the urban/rural status, because you only use the location of the main school building to determine urban/rural status.

Students who attend the annex are counted as part of the total student count and NSLP percentage for the school district (or independent school).

e-rate discount calculation for an independent school

EPC automatically calculates your discount based on the information in your profile.

The school and its annexes share a Category Two budget (which we will cover in more detail next week in the posts about Category Two budgets).

Discount for a non-instructional facility (NIF)

Examples of non-instructional facilities (NIFs) are administrative buildings, school bus barns and garages, cafeteria offices, and facilities associated with athletic activities.

In a district, the schools and the non-instructional facilities use the district’s discount level, regardless of their physical location and regardless of whether the service is used by one, some, or all schools in the district. NIFs do not have Category Two budgets (we’ll cover NIFs and Category Two services in more detail in a future post).

More about calculating discounts for schools

More information is available on the Calculating Discounts page of Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program website about special circumstances, including new construction, non-traditional education (like Head Start, pre-K, juvenile justice and Adult Ed), and changing student populations (for example, in a magnet or vocational school).

There’s also a webinar recording about this topic:

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

Simplifying E-rate Discounts Webinar

Later this week we’ll talk about calculating discounts for libraries and consortia. And beginning next week, we’ll cover Category Two 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 school district 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. Diane Yurasovich

    Is the January 8, 2015 Webinar accurate for FY 2016? Discount based on District, not individual schools?

  2. Yes. If a school is part of a district, it must use the district’s discount rate. Schools that are part of a district are not allowed to use an individual discount level, even if they choose to apply on their own or as part of a consortium.

  3. Pingback: Calculating E-rate Discounts for Consortia and State-wide Applications | File Along With Me

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

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