Program 101

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Program Status: closed

What does this program do?
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. For example, this program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another.

Who may apply?
Eligible applicants include most entities that provide education or health care through telecommunications, including:

  • Most State and local governmental entities
  • Federally-recognized Tribes
  • Non-profits
  • For-profit businesses
  • Consortia of eligible entities

Please refer to the Bulletin for All DLT Applicants Concerning Cloud Services

DLT 100% grant applications are accepted through a competitive process. The application window is announced annually (typically after the first of the year) through a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) in the Federal Register. Applicants are required to provide a minimum 15 percent match. Awards can range from $50,000 to $500,000.

What is an eligible area?
Check with a General Field Representative to determine whether the proposed service area qualifies.

How may the funds be used?
Grant funds may be used for:

  • Acquisition of eligible capital assets, such as:
    • Audio, video and interactive video equipment
    • Terminal and data terminal equipment
    • Computer hardware, network components and software
    • Inside wiring and similar infrastructure that further DLT services
  • Acquisition of instructional programming that is a capital asset
  • Acquisition of technical assistance and instruction for using eligible equipment

What kinds of funding are available?
Grant-only funds, awarded through a nationally competitive process  – 15% match required

What are the grant terms?
A minimum 15% match is required for grant-only awards (cannot be from another federal source)

Are there additional requirements?

  • Borrowers must have the legal authority to provide, construct, operate and maintain the proposed facilities or services
  • All facilities financed with the aid of federal dollars must be used for a public purpose
  • Partnerships with other federal, state, local, private and non-profit entities are encouraged

Who currently participates in this program?
See our DLT Recipient Directory for a list of current participants.

How do we get started?

  • Applications for the grant program are accepted through the national office.
  • Program Resources are available online (includes forms, guidance, certifications, etc.)
  • The window for applications is typically 60 days
  • Check back here or contact your General Field Representative for additional information

Who can answer questions about this program?

What governs this program?
7 CFR 1703, Subparts D through G

Why does USDA Rural Development do this?
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural residents tap into the enormous potential of modern telecommunications and the Internet for education and health care, two of the keys to economic and community development.

NOTE: Program details may change over time. Before you begin an application, please confirm you have the most current information by contacting your General Field Representative for assistance, or consult the program instructions listed in the section above titled "What Governs this Program?"