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Evaluation Criteria

Applicants requesting a 50% loan / 50% grant or 100% grant request under the ReConnect Program will be required to submit a scoring sheet, that will enable USDA to analyze nine separate special evaluation criteria to score the application. A total of 150 points is possible under each funding category. Applications in the same funding category will be scored and ranked against the following special evaluation criteria.

  1. Rurality of Proposed Funded Service Area (25 points). Points will be awarded for serving the least dense rural areas measured by the population of the proposed funded service area per square mile. If multiple service areas are proposed, the density calculation will be made on the combined areas as if they were a single area. For population densities of six or less, 25 points will be awarded. For population densities greater than six, zero points will be awarded. The density calculation is as follows: Total Population of Proposed Funded Service Area / Total Square Miles of Proposed Funded Service Area.
  2. Farms Served (20 points). Applicants will receive one point for each farm that pre-subscribes for broadband service up to a maximum of 20 points. Applicants proposing to serve farms and ranches must have the executive head of the farm or ranch sign the pre-subscription form, available under Forms & Resources, and must submit the pre-subscription forms as part of the application. Points will not be awarded if pre-subscription forms are not included as part of the application to support the number of farms pre-subscribing for service.
  3. Performance of the Offered Service (20 points). For projects that are proposing to build a network capable of providing 100 megabits per second (Mbps) symmetrical service (same speeds download and upload) to all premises, 20 points will be awarded. A certification from a licensed Professional Engineer must certify that the proposed system can deliver these speeds to every premises in the proposed funded service area. The certification form, available under Forms & Resources must be signed by a Professional Engineer.
  4. Businesses (15 points). Applicants will receive one point for each business that pre-subscribes for broadband service up to a maximum of 15 points. Applicants must have the owner of the business sign the pre-subscription form, available under Forms & Resources, and submit the pre-subscription forms as part of the application. Points will not be awarded if pre-subscription forms are not included as part of the application to support the number of businesses pre-subscribing for service.
  5. Healthcare Centers (15 points). For every healthcare center served, one point will be awarded up to a maximum of 15 points. Healthcare centers, such as hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies, will be counted using the GIS layer provided in the RUS Mapping Tool.
  6. Educational Facilities (15 points). For every educational facility served, one point will be awarded up to a maximum of 15 points. Educational facilities, such as public and private schools, libraries, and technical colleges will be counted using the GIS layer provided in the RUS Mapping Tool.
  7. Critical Community Facilities (15 points). For every critical community facility served, one point will be awarded up to a maximum of 15 points. Critical community facilities will be counted using the GIS layer provided in the RUS Mapping Tool.
  8. Tribal Lands (5 points). For applications where, at a minimum, 50 percent (%) of the geographical area of the proposed funded service area(s) is to provide service on tribal lands, five points shall be awarded. Tribal lands will be analyzed using the GIS layer maintained by the U.S. Census. Tribal land areas will be tabulated using the GIS layer provided in the RUS Mapping Tool.
  9. State Broadband Activity (20 points). For projects that are in a State that has a broadband plan that has been updated within the previous five years of the date of publication of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), ten points will be awarded. An additional five points will be awarded for projects located in states that allow any utilities service provider to deliver broadband service. An additional five points will be awarded for projects located in states that commit to expediting right-of-way environmental permitting.

    Applicants will be required to submit evidence from the appropriate State official that a broadband plan has been implemented and updated, that there are no restrictions on utilities providing broadband service, and that procedures are in place for expediting right-of-way and environmental requirements. If service is proposed in multiple states, then evidence must be submitted from each state to receive the appropriate points.

    Additional information on the locations of Critical Community Facilities, Educational Facilities, Healthcare Facilities, and Tribal Lands is available on the ReConnect Program Eligibility Area Map.

    The datasets that make up the Eligibility Area Map, are available to download under the Forms and Resources page, Eligible Area Map Datasets.

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