Grant Details

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT)

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    A - Primarily intended to fund technology


    Rural Development


    The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program is designed to provide access to education, training, and health care resources for rural Americans. The DLT program provides financial assistance to encourage and improve telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas through the use of telecommunications, computer networks, and related advanced technologies that students, teachers, medical professionals, and rural residents can use. Grants may be used to fund telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment, and related advanced technologies which extend educational and medical applications into rural areas. Grants are intended to benefit end users in rural areas, who are often not in the same location as the source of the educational or health care service.

    The DLT program is legislatively authorized to provide three kinds of financial assistance:

    • 100% grant;
    • Combination Loan-Grant; and
    • 100% Loan

    The DLT Grant Program is primarily focused on providing equipment that operates via telecommunications to rural end-users of telemedicine and distance learning. It is useful to keep in mind that while the equipment is eligible, it does not fund the telecommunications that connects that equipment. DLT does not fund communications links between sites (wireless or wire-line) and it does not fund telecommunications or Internet connections. Grants (and eligible matching funds) can be expended only for the costs associated with the initial capital assets associated with the project.

    There are three categories of eligible purposes:

    • Acquiring, by lease or purchase, eligible new or non-depreciated equipment. The application must demonstrate both that the predominant purpose (50% or more of use) of every line-item in the grant and match budget meets the DLT Grant definition of distance learning and/or telemedicine. Examples of eligible equipment include:
      • Computer hardware and software 
      • Site licenses and maintenance contracts
      • Extended warranties (up to 3 years)
      • Audio and video equipment (including interactive audio/video equipment)
      • Computer network components
      • Telecommunications terminal equipment
      • Data terminal equipment
      • Inside wiring
      • Broadband facilities (if owned by the applicant, limited to 20% of budget)
    • Acquiring instructional programming that is a capital asset (including the purchase or lease of instructional programming already on the market). Renewals of instructional programming are not eligible nor is classroom equipment (such as laboratory equipment). Also, expenses (such as those for tuition, fees for coursework on a per course basis, or fees for cultural events or virtual field trips) are not capital assets and therefore, are not eligible. 
    • Providing technical assistance and instruction for using eligible equipment, including any related software; developing instructional programming that is a capital asset and providing engineering or environmental studies relating to the establishment or expansion of the phase of the project to be financed with the grant. The costs for this category cannot exceed 10% of the grant amount requested.

    The following purposes are considered ineligible grant purposes:

    • To pay for medical or educational equipment not having telemedicine or distance learning as its essential function; including telephone systems.
    • To pay for Electronic Medical Records (EMS) systems.
    • To pay salaries, wages, or employee benefits to medical or educational personnel;
    • To pay for the salaries or administrative expenses of the applicant or the project;
    • To purchase equipment that will be owned by the local exchange carrier or another telecommunications service provider unless that service provider is the applicant.
    • To duplicate facilities providing distance learning or telemedicine services in place or to reimburse the applicant or others for costs incurred prior to RUS' receipt of the completed application;
    • To pay costs of preparing the application package for financial assistance under this program; 
    • For projects whose sole objective is to provide links between teachers and students or between medical professionals who are located at the same facility or campus environment;
    • For site development and the destruction or alteration of buildings;
    • For the purchase of land, buildings, or building construction;
    • For projects located in areas covered by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act;
    • For any purpose that the Administrator has not specifically approved; 
    • To pay the cost of recurring or operating expenses for the project including but not limited to internet connection fees

    Further, grant funds shall not be used to finance a project, in part, when the success of the project is dependent upon the receipt of additional financial assistance under DLT or is dependent upon the receipt of other financial assistance that is not assured.

    Because this program is intended to fund end-user equipment at specifically identified sites, applications which propose to provide only web-based services which are universally available are ineligible. This type of project does not have a defined service area and the beneficiaries can be located anywhere, including urban areas.


    History of Funding

    2016 awards can be seen at

    2017 awards can be seen at

    2018 awards can be seen at

    2019 awards can be seen at

    2020 awards can be seen at

    2021 awards can be seen at

    Fiscal Year 2022 Community Project (Earmark) funding goes to Illini Community Hospital (IL), Ben Archer Health Center (NM), New Mexico State Library (NM), Vermont Program for Quality Health Care (VT), West Virginia University (WV), Shepherd University (WV), and Pocahontas County Board of Education (WV).

    Additional Information

    The DLT Grant Program is a competitive program. Applications are scored in objective and subjective categories. 

    • Objective Criteria: statistical in nature and evaluated by comparing statistics on numerical data.
      • Rural Area (Rurality)
      • Economic Need (SAIPE)
      • Special Consideration (points will be awarded for projects in one of two areas, applicants may not receive special consideration points in both)
    • Subjective Criteria: rendered by a judgment, an informed opinion based on various factors, including experience, knowledge and statistical comparisons
      • Need for Services and Project Benefits

    Special Consideration Points will be awarded if the proposal addresses either of the following:

    Opioid or other Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment (10 points): Special consideration points will be awarded to applications that have opioid or other substance use disorder treatment as their primary purpose. For the purpose of the DLT program, opioid or other SUD treatment is defined as the interactive communication between medical or educational professionals and people with SUD or their families, other treatment professionals or those who interact with people with SUD. Opioid-or other SUD Treatment eligible purposes include:

    • Counseling of people with SUD
    • Treatment of people with SUD
    • Training of medical professionals, counselors or first responders in the interaction with people with SUD
    • Education programs addressing SUD

    Tribal Lands (20 points): Special consideration points will be awarded to projects that have at least one end-user site providing service to Federally Recognized Indian Tribes on Tribal Lands. Non-tribal applicants must submit a tribal resolution authorizing the proposed service on tribal lands included as part of the application. 

    • Federally Recognized Indian Tribes are those on the list published in the Federal Register by the Bureau of Indian Affairs on January30, 2020 pp. 5462-5467 ( or a subsequent updated list published by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Federal Register prior to the closing date for grant applications.
    • Tribal Lands means any land that is held in trust by the United States for Native Americans, is subject to restrictions on alienation imposed by the United States on Indian lands, or is owned by a Regional Corporation or a Village Corporation, as such terms are defined in section 3(g) and 3(j) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, respectively (43 U.S.C. 1602(g), (j)).


    Randall Millhiser

    Randall Millhiser
    Office of Loan Origination and Approval
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20250-1550
    (202) 720-0800

    Richard Anderson

    Richard Anderson
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20250-1550
    (202) 720-0800

  • Eligibility Details

    To be eligible for a grant, your organization must:

    1. 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, including a private corporation organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. Each applicant must provide written evidence of its legal capacity to contract with the Rural Utilities Service to obtain the grant and comply with all applicable requirements.
    2. Either operate a rural community facility, or 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.

    Equipment vendors, system integrators, and other businesses whose purpose in the proposal is to sell equipment or technological services to support applicants cannot themselves be applicants. 

    Additional Eligibility Criteria: Minimum Rurality Score - In order to be eligible to receive a grant, an application must receive a minimum of 20 points as an average score for all end user sites included in the project. For end user sites to recieve a score, the must not be classified as "urban". An urban area is any area of the USA included within the boundaries of any incorporated or unincorporated city, village, or borough having a population in excess of 20,000 inhabitants or part of an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town having a population in excess of 50,000 inhabitants.

    In FY21, only ONE application per applicant is eligible for approval. If an applicant submits more than one application, then the Agency will only consider the application with the highest score.

    Deadline Details

    Applications were due June 4, 2021. A similar window is anticipated annually. The application window lasts approximately 60 days.

    As of February 2022, Rural Development expects the next application opportunity to open in late fall, but a date has not been determined.

    For the Community Project funding recipients earmarked in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget only the deadline for applications is July 8, 2022. More information can be found at

    Award Details

    Approximately $44.5 million is available for up to 90 awards in FY21. Of that total, $10.2 million is intended for telemedicine projects that provide substance use disorder treatment services in rural areas. The remaining $34.3 million is available for all eligible projects.

    Individual awards range between $50,000 and $1,000,000 each. Projects last up to 3 years.

    The DLT program requires applicants to provide match funds that total 15% of the grant request. Matching contributions generally must be in the form of cash. However, in-kind contributions used solely for DLT eligible purposes may also be considered. Federal funds are not eligible as matching funds, unless specifically authorized otherwise by Federal statute. E-rate funds are federal funds and cannot be applied as matching funds to a DLT project.

    The most recent awards are available to view here:

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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