USDA Rural Development Funding Program

Since the start of 2017, Greg Cummings, LDG’s director of water/wastewater engineering, has secured more than $5 million in grant funds for municipalities in Pennsylvania and New York to help them complete key projects.

Greg is based in the firm’s Corning, NY office and has 18 years of experience helping clients find funding. In this month’s feature, he answers commonly asked questions about the different types of grants for which a client could qualify through the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

What types of projects are eligible for this program?

This program provides both grants and loans. There are several types of eligible projects; rural utility developments, such as water and environmental improvements, broadband and electrical; rural business service, including business and energy programs; and rural housing projects, including both single- and multi-family housing and community facilities.

Are there any special requirements?

Yes; applicants must be public bodies with populations of less than 10,000, and the funded project must serve a rural area. Applicants also must be unable to finance their projects from their own resources or through commercial credit at reasonable rates and terms.

What goes into the application?

The application is robust and includes completing the initial application package, a preliminary engineering report and an environmental report. Rural Development reviews these documents then either issues a preliminary funding estimate, which isn’t a funding commitment, but gives applicants a potential funding scenario, and invites a full application, or determines the application falls under Other, meaning the project is ineligible for the program or should use other credit.

If Rural Development issues a preliminary funding estimate, the applicant needs to provide a Letter of Condition, including a Commitment Letter, and details of the loan or grant requirements.

If Rural Development is unable to fund the project for current fiscal year, then it sends the application to the National Office for pooling so it may be completed the following fiscal year.

How long does it take to prepare the application?

Four to nine months from start to finish.

Is there anything else municipalities should know about this funding program?

Interest rates for the program are based on a community’s median household income according to the American Community Survey. There are three levels of rates—poverty, intermediate and market.

Can readers looking for infrastructure funding contact you with questions?

Absolutely! This funding program can be very complicated. It’s my pleasure to help clients navigate the process. I can be reached at 607-654-0913 or at

For more information about the program, download this PDF: USDA Rural Development & PA Architects

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