Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loans and Grants

To encourage and improve the use of telemedicine, telecommunications, computer networks, and related advanced technologies to provide educational and medical benefits through distance learning and telemedicine projects to people living in rural areas and to improve rural opportunities.
Examples of Funded Projects

Depending on the type of financial assistance: interactive rural education networks, remote health care units linkups, computer terminals that are required for a distance learning or telemedicine system, video and audio equipment, site development and alteration of buildings, telecommunications transmission facilities, and other telemedicine or distance learning projects.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Program Accomplishments

Not available.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Telecommunications, computer networks and related advanced technologies that provide educational and/or medical benefits to students, teachers, medical professionals and rural residents.

Eligible costs depend on the type of financial assistance being requested; i.e., grant or loan.

See 7 CFR Part 1703 for details.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

To be eligible to receive a grant, loan and grant combination, or loan, the applicant must be legally organized as an incorporated organization or partnership, an Indian tribe or tribal organization, a state or local unit of government, a consortium, or other legal entity.

The applicant must have legal capacity to contract with RUS.

The applicant also must propose to utilize the financing to: (i) operate a rural community facility; or (ii) deliver distance learning or telemedicine services to entities that operate a rural community facility or to residents of rural areas at rates calculated to ensure that the benefit of the financial assistance is passed through to such entities or to residents of rural areas.

The applicant must not be delinquent on any Federal debt.

RUS electric and telecommunications borrowers are not eligible for grants.

Generally, applicants are organizations such as schools, libraries, hospitals, medical centers, or other eligible organizations that will be users of a telecommunications, computer network, or related advanced technology system to provide educational and/or medical benefits to rural residents.

Beneficiary Eligibility

The people living in rural areas and to improve rural opportunities, particularly in the areas of education, training and medical services.


See 7 CFR Part 1703 for details.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

This program is subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No.

A-110 (7 CFR 3015).

This program is not subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No.


Application Procedures

Submit application Form 424; non-delinquent on any Federal obligations; consultation with USDA State Director (for grant applicants); evidence of legal existence and authority to perform the proposed grant activities; a comprehensive rural telecommunications plan; scope of work plan, executive summary for the project: financial information; a statement of experience; funding commitment from other sources; compliance with Federal statutes and regulations (compliance with scoring criteria) and environmental impact; supplemental information and required additional RUS information.

Award Procedures

Based on a determination that the loan is economically feasible and serves the purposes of the Rural Electrification Act, loans are approved. For grants, RUS rates the applicants based on specified scoring criteria and determines awards based on those ratings.


See the federal register notice for grant application deadline. Loan applications may be submitted anytime and loans are approved throughout the year.


Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Title VII, Public Law 104-127, 7 U.S.C 950.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Applications are approved each fiscal year for which funding is made available. Applications that have not been approved may be resubmitted each year for consideration.


A grant applicant may appeal the numerical scoring to the Secretary in writing within 10 days after applicant is notified of the scoring level.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no formula requirements. A 15 percent matching contribution will be required from the applicant. No matching is required for applicants requesting loans.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Funds may be advanced monthly or as needed to reimburse disbursements for approved grant purposes. Applicants generally have three years to spend funds. Extensions may be granted.

Post Assistance Requirements


SF 269, "Financial Status Report," and project performance activity report required annually.


For a grant recipient, an audit report is required for the years in which funds are received. For a loan recipient, an audit report is required annually until all RUS loans have been repaid.


Grantee will provide evidence that funds are expended for approved purposes.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $15,000,000; FY 08 est $24,750,000; and FY 09 est not reported. (Loans) FY 07 $127,914,000; FY 08 est $0; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

The minimum grant is $50,000. The maximum varies and is not to exceed the amount established by the RUS Administrator.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

7 CFR 1703, subparts D through G. Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program Grant Application Guide - Fiscal Year 2007 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program Loan and Combination Loan-Grant Application Guide - Fiscal Year 2007.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Assistant Administrator, Telecommunications Program, Rural Utilities Service, Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., STOP 1590, Room 5151, Washington, DC 20250 1590. Telephone: (202) 720 9554, Fax: (202) 720 0810.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

See 7 CFR Part 1703, subparts D through G.

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