In its latest News Brief, USAC provides additional clarification regarding the eligibility of web hosting services for E-rate discounts. In order for hosting services to qualify for funding, USAC requires applicants to have "control" over the hosted website:
Applicants apply for support to host content on the web in two ways. In the first case, applicants can apply for web hosting service, which is eligible in the Internet Access category. In the second case, applicants can apply for discounts on the purchase of a web server, which would be eligible in the Internal Connections category. In either case, applicants are in "control" of their websites.
Distinct from the examples above are websites hosted by application vendors where the applicant is NOT in "control" of the website, such as Student Information Systems vendors or database content vendors. Applicants may store their own data on the company's servers, such as their own student data, or may simply access content provided by the application vendor. Access to the application may be provided over the web, typically behind a user-id and password. Applicants do not control these websites. These websites and the data hosting remain wholly ineligible.
In its clarification, USAC continues to emphasize that any applications or web-based tools for content editing and management are ineligible for discount. Further, "web hosting costs for applications or web-based tools" are explicitly identified as ineligible. The full text of the News Brief may be found at https://apps.usac.org/sl/tools/news-briefs/preview.aspx?id=220.