USDA Extends ReConnect Round 5 Application Deadline

If fully utilized, the fifth round ReConnect funding will amount to $700 million.

USDA Extends ReConnect Round 5 Application Deadline
Photo of U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. by user "afagen"

WASHINGTON, February 26, 2024 – The Department of Agriculture on Monday extended by 30 days the deadline to submit applications for the fifth round of the ReConnect rural broadband funding program, pushing the deadline to May 21.

Beginning March 22, internet service providers, state and local governments, rural electric cooperatives, and other eligible entities will have 60 days to apply for loans up to $50 million or grants up to $25 million to support broadband infrastructure initiatives in rural areas, as detailed by a Monday notice published in the Federal Register

The funding from USDA’s ReConnect Loan and Grant Program will amount to $700 million if all available money is fully utilized. It includes:

  • Up to $150 million available for grants. The maximum award amount is $25M, and a 25 percent match is required.
  • Up to $200 million for 50/50 grant-loan partnerships. Up to $100M is available for loans and up to $100M is available for grants. The maximum award amount is $25M for the loan and $25M for the grant, and the interest rate is set at the US Treasury Rate.
  • Up to $200 million available for loans. The maximum award amount is $50M, and the interest rate is set at a fixed 2 percent. 
  • Up to $150 million in grants is also available to Alaska native corporations, tribal governments, colonias, persistent poverty areas and socially vulnerable communities. The maximum award amount is $25M, and no match is required.

One new rule for the program's fifth round may affect small rural providers receiving support through the E-ACAM program. These providers are only eligible for 100 percent loan funding in the upcoming round. 

The agency will determine the eligibility of applicants that receive other FCC Universal Service Fund support on a case-by-case basis following high-cost program rules, USDA said in the notice of funding opportunity for ReConnect round 5.

The USDA will hold events beginning February 27 to workshop applications of potential program awardees. The agency will host an overview of Round 5 NOFO on March 6.

ReConnect supports the deployment of broadband infrastructure delivering high-speed internet access at 100 * 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) to proposed rural service areas, where 90 percent of households currently lack internet speeds of 25*3 Mbps.

In the notice, the USDA commits to collaborate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, states, and grantees to ensure that ReConnect and the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program align and support each other effectively.

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