Program Description

This program provides long-term direct and guaranteed loans to qualified organizations for the purpose of financing the improvement, expansion, construction, acquisition, and operation of telephone lines, facilities, or systems to furnish and improve Telecommunications and Broadband Services in rural areas. "Rural area" is defined as any area of the United States, its territories and insular possessions (including any areas within the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau) not included within the boundaries of any incorporated or unincorporated city, village, or borough having a population exceeding 5,000 inhabitants. The population figure is obtained from the Bureau of Census. For purposes of the "rural area" definition, the character of an area is determined at the time the initial loan for the system is made. Additional information on this program may be found at:

General Program Requirements

To be eligible to receive a loan the applicant must be legally organized as a telephone company or cooperative, an indian tribe or tribal organization, nonprofit association, limited dividend association, mutual association or public body including those located in the U.S. Territories and countries included in the Compact of Free Association Act of 1985, providing or proposing to provide telecommunications service to meet the needs of rural areas. The applicant must have legal capacity to contract with RUS.

Your Next Steps

The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this program.

Application Process

Applications may be submitted year round. The completed loan application consists of four parts: an RUS Form 490; Application for Telephone Loan or Loan Guarantee; a market survey called Area Coverage Survey (ACS); the plan and associated costs for the proposed construction called the Loan Design (LD); and other various supplementary information specified in 7 CFR 1737.22. The RUS Administrator, Assistant Administrator, or Deputy Assistant Administrator makes the final decision on approval of the loan or loan guarantee upon a finding that it is economically feasible and serves the purposes of the Rural Electrification Act. Detailed information on applying for an RUS Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan or Loan Guarantee may be found at:

Program Contact Information

Shawn Arner
Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan Origination and Approval Division

Additional Information

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number10.851
Current Method of Tribal EligibilityNo Set-aside; Tribes Eligible with Other Entities
Can the funding from the program be renewedNo
Funding TypeDiscretionary
Entities Eligible for Grant AssistanceFederally Recognized Tribes and Tribal Organizations, Non-Tribal Entities
Matching Funds RequiredNo
Number of People Served by this Program (Approximate)100,000 per year
Length of ProgramDirect and guaranteed loans can be made not to exceed the economic life of facilities and equipment (average loan maturity is 18 yrs). Advances of funds must be completed within 5 years.
Recurring Base Funding for TribesNo
Do Tribes compete with other entities for funding from the program?U.S. Territories, U.S. local governments, Private for-profit entities, Private non-profit entities, Other non-tribal/non-native entities
Tribes Funded by this Program8 currently have loans through this program

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