Since 2016, schools and libraries have been required to use the USAC EPC online portal to prepare and submit E-rate forms and information. The system, which has been widely criticized for its counterintuitive design and poor performance, has been in development since 2015. USAC continues to invest in EPC and has publicly committed to delivering “functional systems that ensure full and successful participation in the universal service programs.”

The perspective of E-rate applicants on using the system has been tracked for the past three years in a national survey. In 2016 and 2017, 23% of respondents described EPC as easy to use.  50% described it as difficult; however, in 2018, those numbers shifted: 29% of applicants now describe EPC as easy to use and 44% describe it as difficult. The net effect is a 6% shift in the positive direction.
These anonymous comments provide a snapshot of applicants’ views regarding the EPC system:
  • “EPC is a cumbersome and difficult site to navigate.”
  • “EPC has made it much easier…”
  • “EPC desperately needs to be redesigned…”
  • “The EPC system has greatly cut down time spent on the E-rate process.”
  • “The EPC is our biggest problem as it is confusing, inefficient, and difficult to use.”
More than 1,000 individuals participated in the 2018 survey of applicants. The full report, including more comments from applicants, is available here.