The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and its Schools and Libraries Program, which is better known as the E-Rate program brings numerous advantages to the classroom, as well as to libraries across the U.S. If you’re thinking about applying during the next filing window, consider the following eight benefits of the E-Rate program below.
- Offer Fast Internet Access and Speeds
Upgrading your school or library’s existing Internet makes you an accessible resource for fast Internet access, whether it’s for students or families living in the nearby community. Providing quality speeds leads to several other benefits, from improving your school’s curriculum to increasing your library’s foot traffic.
Other perks of the E-Rate program include your financial discount for installing and maintaining your Internet service, as well as the opportunity to provide your students and local community with equal access to the Internet and technology, such as iPads and computers. These advantages can all lead to big changes in your area.
- Connect With Your Community
Discounted telecommunication services, courtesy of E-Rate discounts, provide substantial perks to libraries and their communities. By providing fast and reliable Internet access, libraries can become a place where community members can gather to gain information, especially if they’re unable to afford Internet in their own homes.
The Internet itself is a source of a wide range of information, which also benefits the community. Library visitors can search for job listings across sites like LinkedIn or Monster, while others can educate themselves on the latest news stories or topics that interest them. With an improved telecommunications system, your library can become a modern hub for learning.
- Provide Improved Curriculum
One of the most significant benefits for schools using the E-Rate program is the chance to improve their curriculum. With Internet access, teachers can bring online opportunities into the classroom. Whether the instructor wants to share an educational video, interactive learning games, online testing or another tool to teach their class, they can.
Enhancing the curriculum of your classrooms can lead to shifts in standardized test results, as well as increases in graduation rates and decreases in the number of students that discontinue their education. A better curriculum can also lead to an improvement in your school’s reputation, which may attract additional families to your district.
- Bring Technology Into the Classroom
With the E-Rate program, you can bring fast Internet and reliable devices to your classrooms. Many schools across the country are going beyond laptops and computers, instead providing their students with tablets to take tests, complete in-class assignments and more.
Bringing technology into your classrooms also give students a chance to learn about how to use these devices, apps and programs, which prepares them as they graduate to the next grade level and take on more challenging assignments, such as research papers.
- Reduce Your Facility’s Operating Costs
Switching to an online curriculum, or at least reducing your amount of paper in the classroom, offers substantial financial savings. For some secondary schools, moving to a digital curriculum has resulted in savings of $20,000 a year, while colleges like Yale University have seen costs decrease by more than $600,000.
For many organizations that benefit from the E-Rate program, saving on operating costs is a significant benefit, as budgets are already tight. With the savings from going paperless, your school or library can reinvest the money elsewhere, whether that’s for facility repairs and improvements or classroom enhancements.
- Deliver 24/7 Learning Opportunities
With the E-Rate program, teachers can provide 24/7 learning opportunities no matter where the student or instructor is imn the world. This advantage not only lets your faculty enhance their curriculum for existing students, but also teach students outside your district. If your school offers online AP courses, for instance, you could allow additional outside students to enroll and work toward gaining college credit.
Another result of these 24/7 learning opportunities is that you can accommodate students who want a completely online education. By offering this service, you will grow your school’s reputation and services, which can attract more families and their children to your district.
- Give Community Members Equal Access to Technology
Libraries and schools that qualify for E-Rate funding are often in low-income or rural areas, which means many families don’t have access to expensive technologies like tablets, smartphones and laptops. Equipping your facility with these products gives your community the chance to use these items and learn from them.
For younger users, this opportunity can have a substantial impact on their educational future. They can learn about new tech and how to use it for educational purposes, such as completing homework, researching colleges, applying for scholarships and more.
- Add Technology to Your Facility at a Discount
One of the biggest perks of the E-Rate program is the discount. Qualifying institutions can receive a 20 to 90% discount from USAC, giving you the necessary funds to deliver all the above benefits to your constituents and students, as well as your community.
While the range varies by financial need and the number of people you serve, the discount does help reduce your overall costs. Applying as a group, such as by pairing with other schools, can help you increase that need so you receive a more appropriate amount of funds.
Get the Benefits of the E-Rate Program With the Advantages of UniVoIP
Applying for E-Rate assistance is a commitment that requires a substantial amount of time and dedication, but its long-term benefits to your classrooms, library, community and finances make it an endeavor worth undertaking.
At UniVoIP, we pride ourselves on being a recognized Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) provider that’s delivered our VoIP solutions to numerous schools and libraries receiving E-Rate program funding. Our turnkey services provide not only trusted service, but flat-rate fees your staff can predict and count on each month.