E-rate technology plan requirements have changed and shifted since 1998. With the adoption of the FCC’s Sixth Report & Order in September 2010, E-rate applicants were no longer required to have an approved technology plan that covered Priority One services, but were still required to do so for Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance. With the adoption of the FCC’s 7th Report & Order in July 2014, the FCC eliminated the requirement for an approved technology plan for all categories of E‑rate eligible services, beginning with Funding Year 2015.

It is important for schools and library E-rate administrators to understand that they can still receive an audit from regulators where the auditors will want to confirm this requirement for funding years prior to Funding Year 2015.

To meet the requirements set out by USAC and the FCC, a technology plan must include these elements:

  1. The plan must establish clear goals and a realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology to improve education or library services.
  2. The plan must have a professional development strategy to ensure that staff know how to use these new technologies to improve education or library services.
  3. The plan must include an assessment of the telecommunications services, hardware, software, and other services that will be needed to improve education or library services.
  4. The plan must include an evaluation process that enables the school or library to monitor progress toward the specified goals and make corrections in response to new developments and opportunities as they arise.
  5. Prior to FY2011, tech plans must also include a sufficient budget to acquire and support the non-discounted elements of the plan (e.g., hardware, software, professional development, and other services).

A draft technology plan, must be approved by a USAC certified technology plan endorser. The plan should be drafted before starting the E-rate Form 470 and competitive bidding process. The technology plan must be approved before the applicant begins receiving the relevant E-rate discounted services.

The role of E-rate service providers in technology planning must be limited. Service providers can offer advice on how technology can be leveraged to meet a school's educational goals; however, the service provider cannot write the technology plan or serve in the group or committee that is responsible for developing the technology plan.

If a service provider is inappropriately involved in the development of a technology plan, any E-rate funding requests that are based upon the technology plan could be denied.