Grant Details

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT)

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    A - Primarily intended to fund technology


    Department of Agriculture (USDA)


    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.

    Eligible expenses and activities include:
    • The lease or purchase of new eligible DLT equipment and facilities (equipment only). Examples of eligible equipment include:
      • Audio, video and interactive video equipment;
      • Terminal and data terminal equipment;
      • Computer hardware, network components and software; and
      • Inside wiring and similar infrastructure that further DLT services;
    • Acquiring new instructional programming that is capital asset;
    • Technical assistance, developing instructional material for the operation of the equipment, and engineering or environmental studies in the implementation of the project. (Up to 10% of the grant); and
    • Telemedicine or distance learning equipment or facilities necessary to the project.
    Ineligible expenses and activities include:
    • Projects located in areas covered by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (16 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. See -;
    • Hub sites not located in rural areas are not eligible for grant assistance unless they are necessary to provide DLT services to end-users in rural areas;
    • In-kind matches from vendors;
    • Vehicles using distance learning or telemedicine technology to deliver services.
    • Teacher-student links located at the same facility, or  Links between medical professionals located at the same facility;
    • Site development or building alteration, except for equipment installation and associated inside wiring;
    • Land or building purchase;
    • Building Construction;
    • Acquiring, installing, or constructing telecommunications transmission facilities (such facilities are only eligible for DLT loans). Internet services, telecommunications services or other forms of connectivity;
    • Salaries, wages, benefits for medical or educational personnel;
    • Salaries or administrative expenses of applicant or project;
    • Recurring project costs or operating expenses, including internet connection fees (equipment & facility leases are not recurring project costs);
    • Medical equipment not having telemedicine as its essential function, including Electronic Medical Record Systems;
    • Equipment to be owned by the LEC or other telecommunications service provider, if the provider is the applicant;
    • 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
    • Any project that for its success depends on additional DLT financial assistance or other financial assistance that is not assured;
    • Application Preparation Costs;
    • Other project costs not in regulation;
    • Cost (amount) of facilities providing distance learning broadcasting; and
    • Reimbursing applicants or others for costs incurred prior to RUS receipt of completed application.

    History of Funding

    Previous awards can be viewed at:

    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) (Up to 45 points)
      • Economic Need (NSLP) (Up to 35 points)
      • Matching Funds (Leveraging) (Up to 35 points)
    • Subjective Criteria: rendered by a judgment, an informed opinion based on various factors, including experience, knowledge and statistical comparisons
      • Needs for Services and Project Benefits (Up to 55 points)
      • Innovativeness (Up to 15 points)
      • Cost Effectiveness (Up to 35 points)
      • Special Considerations (15 points)
    Special consideration will be offered to applications that contain at least one end-user site within a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area, a Strike Force area or a Promise Zone. The application will need to include a map showing the end-user site(s) located in the Special Consideration area, as well as the geographical coordinate(s), and physical street address(es) of the end-user site(s).

    To meet the minimum rurality requirements, applicants must propose end user sites that accrue a total average score of at least 20 points. To receive points, an end user site must not be located within the boundaries of any incorporated or unincorporated city, village, or borough having a population in excess of 20,000 inhabitants.


    Shawn Arner

    Shawn Arner
    Office of Loan Origination and Approval
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington', DC 20250-1550

  • 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, as defined in; 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.

    Deadline Details

    Applications were to be submitted by July 17, 2017.  A similar deadline is anticipated annually. Applicants typically have 60 days to apply from the release of the new solicitation.

    Award Details

    Approximately $23,000,000 is available in total funding. Awards range between $50,000 and $500,000 each. Of the funds made available, $1,600,000 will be prioritized to provide for communication upgrades between ambulances, emergency transportation vehicles and medical facilities. The DLT program requires a minimum match of 15%. A higher match may receive more points. Projects last up to 3 years.


    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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