Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

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3/26/2015Today’s Online FCC Form 471 Filing Tip


Each day, USAC will provide a tip on how to navigate through the online FCC Form 471 for FY2015. Check this Latest News post daily for a new tip and to access previous tips.

The tips will be labeled by the area of the form to which they apply: General Guidance, Basic Information, Discount Calculation, Funding Requests, Certifications & Signature, or Certifying Your Form.

Today’s Tip

  • Basic Information – If you are not using a consultant, skip the entry fields on the online form that relate to consultants. For the purposes of the E-rate Program, a consultant is any non-employee of the entity applying for funding that assists in filling out the application materials for a fee. “Non-employee” includes contractors or others who are employed by the entity on a contract or short-term basis who do not receive a W-2 application from the entity filling out the application.

Previous Tips:

General Guidance

  • You can tell where you are in the form by the large chevrons (arrows) at the top of each page. There is one chevron per section: Basic Information (formerly Block 1), Discount Calculation (formerly Block 4), Funding Requests (formerly Block 5), and Certifications & Signature (formerly Block 6). The chevron that is blue indicates the section you are currently working on. Posted 01/23
  • Wait at least 28 days after your FCC Form 470 was posted to the USAC website before you choose a service provider, sign a contract (if applicable), and push the “Submit” button to submit your FCC Form 471. Posted 01/30
  • It’s important to use a supported browser when filing your form. Internet Explorer versions 9 and 10 and the most recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Safari are the browsers currently supported for the online FCC Form 471. Posted 02/04 
  • Clear your browser’s cache/cookies/history before starting a form. To clear your cache/cookies/history, go to the “Tools” menu if you are using Internet Explorer or Chrome, the “History” menu for Firefox, or the “Develop” menu for Safari. You can search “clear cache” in your browser’s “Help” menu or on the Internet to get more specific instructions for the browser you are using. Posted 02/05 
  • If you want to save your work at any point in time, click the floppy disk icon in the upper right hand corner of any screen in the online form. The floppy disk icon is just to the left of the print icon and the "Log Out" button. Posted 02/06 
  • The discount calculated for a school district is used by all individual schools in that district. Individual schools that are part of a school district cannot use their own student counts to calculate an individual discount. Posted 02/12 
  • You must file your Category One services and your Category Two services on separate FCC Forms 471. However, all of your Category One services can go on one form — under different FRNs — as can all of your Category Two services (on a separate form). Posted 02/26 
  • Before you start your FCC Form 471, verify that the entity information for the billed entity and all entities receiving service is correct by reviewing their entries in the Search for BEN Information tool. Posted 03/02 
  • To submit a Receipt Acknowledgment Letter (RAL) correction, if the incorrect data don’t appear on the RAL, print and mark up a copy of the relevant part of the form. You may have to click one or more accordions – the plus signs (“+”) located on the left-hand side of the online form – to print the data you want to correct. Posted 03/16 
  • You will need to use the "Compatibility View" for versions of Internet Explorer higher than version 10. You can access this function from the "Tools" menu. Posted 03/18 
  • Consult the FY2015 Eligible Services List (ESL) for information about changes in eligibility of services and other service-related questions. Appendix B sets forth the services and components no longer eligible for support, and Appendix C is the ESL itself. Posted 03/25 

Basic Information 

  • Keep your system-assigned application number and security code in a safe place. You will need them to continue a form that you haven’t yet submitted or to certify a submitted form that you haven’t yet certified. Posted 02/18 
  • You will need an FCC Registration Number to complete this section. If you don't already have one, you can request one on the CORES section of the FCC's website. Posted 03/10
  • You can update your Billed Entity Information, or get a Billed Entity Number if you don't already have one, by using Submit a Question or calling us at (888) 203-8100. Review the Entity Number guidance on the website to make sure you have all the required information at hand. Posted 03/11
  • Consultant Registration Numbers (CRNs) can be issued by the Client Service Bureau. If you are a consultant and need a CRN – or if you are an applicant and need the CRN for your consultant – contact us at 1 (888) 203-8100. Posted 03/13 
  • You can give your FCC Form 471 a nickname (formerly called an “Applicant Form Identifier”) to distinguish it from other forms you have filed. Posted 03/20 

Discount Calculations

  • To choose multiple attributes when entering an individual school or library, hold down the Control key (Ctrl), click on your selections, and then lift the Control key. Posted 01/26
  • If you are using a school template to enter a school with no students (e.g., a vocational school that is not the home school of any of the students that attend classes there), do not enter a zero in the template; rather, leave the student count blank and then enter a zero in the online form after you import (upload) the template. Posted 01/29
  • If you are using a template, save and close the file before attempting to upload it into the online FCC Form 471. Posted 02/09
  • Use the icons under the "Entity Information and Budget Calculation" worksheet to add (plus sign "+"), edit (pencil icon), or delete (trashcan icon) your entries. Posted 02/10 
  • If you choose “CEP” as an alternative discount mechanism for an individual school, you cannot enter a percentage of direct certification students less than 40 percent for that school. Posted 02/11 
  • A library outlet or branch that is part of a library system must complete the Discount Calculation section by listing all of the outlets/branches in that library system, even if that library pays its own bills and files the form itself as the Billed Entity. Posted 02/23 
  • An individual school that is part of a school district must complete the Discount Calculation section by listing all of the individual schools in that school district, even if that individual school pays its own bills and files the form itself as the Billed Entity. Posted 02/25 
  • Enter your non-instructional facilities (NIFs) under the school district or library system in the Discount Calculation section along with the other schools in the school district or libraries in the library system. The form will not calculate a discount if only NIFs are entered. Posted 03/03 
  •  If you use a template to upload your school or library discount information and you find you have made a mistake, you can always correct your mistake directly in the online form before you submit it. Posted 03/04
  • To enter the school district in which the main branch of the library system is located, use the Search for BEN Information tool to locate the school district’s entity number. Posted 03/05 
  • For each entity in the "Entity Information and Budget Information" section, the field labeled “Post-discount Entity Category 2 Budget” is the pre-discount Category Two budget for that entity multiplied by its E-rate discount percentage. It is for your reference, and reflects the maximum amount the E-rate program would commit toward the total eligible cost of the Category Two services. Posted 03/17 

Funding Requests

  • After you enter information for services and costs, click the blue “Manage Recipients” button to identify the entities that will receive those services. If you don’t see the blue button, click the plus sign (+) located to the far left of the information you entered. Posted 01/19
  • After you identify the recipients for a Category One service, if you see a number in the orange button to the right of the blue “Manage Recipients” button, you must click the "Manage Recipients" button and indicate the number of lines assigned to each entity. Posted 01/20
  • After you identify the recipients for a Category Two service, the orange button to the right of the blue “Manage Recipients” button will also display a dollar amount. Click the blue “Manage Recipients” button to allocate the cost of the service among the entities receiving the service. Posted 01/21
  • When you have correctly allocated the number of lines or the costs in a funding request line item to the entities receiving service, the orange button labeled “xxx Remaining” will turn green. Posted 01/22
  • Do not click the “Upload Completed Template” button if you have not already prepared a file for import (upload). Templates are optional. Instead, simply click “Add Line Item” and enter your data directly into the online form. Posted 01/27
  • Use the narrative field for the FRN not just for a description of your service(s) but also to provide information you think is important for USAC to understand, such as the specific location of shared equipment or the rationale for a cost allocation. Posted 01/28
  • If you are filing for voice services, do not select “Telecommunications Services” in the “Key Information” area. You must choose “Voice Services” in order to enter a request for 800# service, local and long distance phone services, and other voice services. Posted 02/02
  • In a Category One service, if you indicate that your service includes last mile connections, you must supply the number of lines and allocate those lines appropriately to the recipients of service by clicking “Manage Entities.” Posted 02/03
  • If you choose "Telecommunications Services" as your service type, you cannot upload a template that includes one or more line items for voice services. You must create a separate FRN for voice services. Posted 02/13 
  • Don’t cite an FCC Form 470 on a funding request before the Allowable Contract Date (28 days after the date the form was posted to the USAC website) that appears on your Receipt Notification Letter for that form. Posted 02/16 
  • When you allocate costs to individual entities on an FRN line item, you can allocate equally by entity, proportionally by number of students (schools) or square footage (libraries), or you can enter your own allocation for each of the entities sharing the equipment or service. Note that the allocation should reasonably reflect each entity's share. Posted 02/24 
  • If you are purchasing a number of identical pieces of equipment (e.g., 100 model A widgets manufactured by Company B) but installing them in various schools or libraries, you can list the total number and cost of the identical pieces in a single line on your Item 21 and indicate where they will be installed and used by (1) allocating the cost as appropriate for each school or library and (2) providing any necessary details in the FRN narrative. Posted 02/27 
  • If you use a template to upload your Category One or Category Two product and service information and you find you have made a mistake, you can always correct your mistake directly in the online form before you submit it. Posted 03/06 
  • If you see an orange exclamation point ("!") to the right of the Item 21 button on a funding request, this means that your service, cost, and/or recipient allocation information is still incomplete. Click the Item 21 button to access the entry screen and look for the red text that indicates where information is missing. Posted 03/12 
  • If you select "Telecommunications Services" as your service type for a funding request, you cannot enter eligible "Voice Services" in that funding request even if they are from the same service provider. You must create a separate funding request and choose "Voice Services" for the service type. Posted 03/23 
  • Refer to the "Instructions for Completing the Funding Requests Templates" if you are having trouble deciding which choices to select from the dropdown menus in the online form. The "Specific Instructions" sections for each service type contain a list of the possible dropdowns with some helpful information. Posted 03/24 

Certifications & Signature

  • In the “Necessary Resources” certification, be sure to enter the total amount in your budget allocated for resources not eligible for E-rate discounts but that are necessary for you to support and improve education and/or library services, and to make effective use of the eligible services you are requesting (e.g., hardware, professional development, software, maintenance, retrofitting). Posted 02/17
  • Read all of the certifications carefully. You or your successor may be required to demonstrate compliance with them at some point in the future. Posted 03/19 

Certifying Your Form

  • After you file your first paper certification for an FCC Form 470, 471, or 486, USAC will issue you a Personal Identification Number (PIN) by secure mailer that you can use to certify subsequent program forms online. Posted 02/19
  • If you do not have a Personal Identification Number (PIN) when you are ready to certify your FCC form, you must click the “Certify” button on the FCC Form 471 Apply Online page; enter your application number and security code and click “Log In”; print, sign, and date the certification page that appears; then mail it to USAC at the address provided. Posted 02/20 

3/20/2015News Brief Issued


The 03/20/2015 issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

3/12/2015FY2015 Application Filing Window Deadline Extended


New close date for the FY2015 filing window: April 16, 2015, at 11:59:59 PM EDT

In response to a reasonable request from our nation's largest school districts, USAC, in consultation with the FCC, has extended the FY2015 application filing window for three additional weeks. The application filing window will now close on April 16, 2015, instead of the original date of March 26, 2015.

FCC Form 471 applications must be submitted on or before 11:59:59 PM EDT on Thursday, April 16, 2015, to be considered in-window.

For more information, see today's Special Edition News Brief.

3/10/2015Special Edition News Brief - Guidance for the Online FCC Form 471 Alternative Data Entry Process


The 03/10/2015 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

3/2/2015Funding Request Filing Tips for FCC Form 471


Use these tips when completing the "Funding Request" section of the FCC Form 471: 

  1. Select the correct "Purpose" (in most cases "Internet" and "Transport" are itemized separately) 
    In most cases, applicants should itemize the costs for Internet connections separately from transport connections. Only in situations where the provider offers a single price for a bundled service for both Internet connections and transport circuits should the applicant select "Transport and Internet." Transport services (or WAN) are connections between buildings, whereas Internet is the connection from the school or library to the Internet provider.
  2. Select the correct "Type of Service" (in most cases it is "Digital Transmission Services" for broadband) 
    For Category One broadband, in most cases, applicants will select "Digital Transmission Services" and specify the type of connection procured for that service. "IA Only (no circuit)" should not be selected generically for Internet Access service. "IA Only (no circuit)" is a rare situation where an applicant is paying for Internet access separately from the physical connection that carries the Internet to their building.
  3. Select the correct response for WAN ("Yes" for Transport connections only)
    WAN or "Wide Area Network" is a service that provides the connections between buildings. Select "Yes" for the WAN if the district or library system has a Transport connection.

For more information about these issues, please refer to our February 19th Special Edition of the News Brief on "Selecting Service Types for Category One." 

  

2/27/2015News Brief Issued


The 02/27/2015 issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

2/26/2015FY2015 FCC Form 470 Filing Deadline: Thursday, February 26


Thursday, February 26, 2015, is the last day you can post an FCC Form 470 to the USAC website and still meet the 28-day requirement before filing your FCC Form 471. If you are required to file an FCC Form 470 but have not yet done so, please promptly file your form.

To get started, USAC recommends watching the instructional videos located in our Online Learning Library, including:

 

2/19/2015Special Edition News Brief - Guidance on Selecting Service Types for Category One Funding Requests


The 02/19/2015 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

2/9/2015Special Edition News Brief - E-rate Modernization Order Frequently Asked Questions


The 02/09/2015 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

2/4/2015New Guidance Available to Help Determine Library Main Branch


New guidance has been approved on how to determine the main branch of a library for the purposes of calculating a library system's discount. 

Libraries with outlets/branches in more than one school district must use the total student counts from the school district in which the central outlet or main administrative branch of the library is located. For some libraries – especially those in large cities – identifying the building that would be considered the main branch is straightforward. However, in other situations – rural areas with outlets/branches of similar size and importance, regional library service systems, library consortia (as opposed to consortia of libraries) – applicants indicate they are not sure how to determine which library outlet/branch should be considered the main branch.

Here is what we suggest:

  1. Where there is an identified and known central outlet or main library branch, use that location.
  2. If no library is identified as the “main” library branch, use the library location where official library business is transacted or mail is sent. However, note that this location cannot be a non-instructional facility.
  3. If neither of the two preceding options fit the situation, the library can designate one library location as the “main” library. The library should document its rationale for designating that location as the “main” library and retain that documentation with its other program documentation so that it can be produced upon request.  

1/29/2015Special Edition News Brief - Reminders on Student Counts


The 01/29/2015 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

1/28/2015Special Edition News Brief - Optional Templates for Online FCC Form 471


The 01/28/2015 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

1/14/2015FCC Forms 470 and 471 Available on Training Site


FCC Forms 470 and 471 for FY2015 are now available on the Schools and Libraries Program Training Site. The training site can be used to practice filing and certifying some program forms online or to train others in the online filing process.

We suggest that you file using the following information in order to see all of the functionality available on these forms:

  • Start the form using Billed Entity Number 145909 (APPLICANT). This will allow you to file as any application type: individual school, school district, library, consortium, or statewide applicant.
  • For the FCC Registration Number, use 1234567890.
  • If you would like to test the Consultant Registration Number lookup functionality in the FCC Form 470, use 16062359. You may not be able to test it on the FCC Form 471.
  • When you reach the "Discount Calculation" section, you can use the "Search" function to choose any entities you want to include in your test application, based on the application type you selected in the "Basic Information" section.
  • When you reach the "Funding Request" section, you will be asked for a valid FCC Form 470 number and a SPIN for each FRN you file. Please use the following valid numbers:
    • FCC Form 470 Numbers: 104530001046284 and 813490001142573
    • SPIN: 143999999
  • To complete an online certification, please use:
    • AUTHORIZED PERSON NAME: Jane Smith
    • AUTHORIZED PERSON EMAIL: applicant@usac.org
    • PIN: ocular#

1/14/2015Special Edition News Brief - FY2015 Window Opens Today


The 01/14/2015 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

1/14/2015FCC Form 471 Filing Window for Funding Year 2015 Opens at Noon EST on Wednesday, January 14, 2015


The FCC Form 471 application filing window for Funding Year 2015 will open at noon EST on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 and will close at 11:59 PM EDT on Thursday, March 26, 2015. The filing window will be open for 72 days.

Be sure to review the FY2015 Eligible Services List for details on products and services that are eligible for E-rate discounts in FY2015.

We will issue the customary Letter to the Field around the time that the FCC Form 471 application filing window opens to provide filing information and deadline reminders related to the window.

Meanwhile, keep the following in mind:
  • You can file an FCC Form 470 now if you are ready to do so; you don't need to wait for the window to open. To file an FCC Form 470 online, go to the Apply Online page and click on the "Create Form 470" button.
  • You must wait 28 days after the FCC Form 470 is POSTED to the USAC website before you can select a service provider, sign a contract (if applicable), and submit an FCC Form 471. If you issue an RFP after the FCC Form 470 is posted, you must wait 28 days from the release of the RFP to select a service provider.
  • Thursday, February 26, 2015 is the last day to post an FCC Form 470 to the USAC website or issue an RFP and still complete all of these actions before the window closes.

You can find additional program guidance documents in the Reference Area of the USAC website.

1/13/2015Special Edition News Brief - Tips for the FY2015 Application Filing Window


The 01/13/2015 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

1/8/2015Special Edition News Brief - Templates for Completing Discount Calculations


The 01/08/2015 Special Edition issue of the News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

1/6/2015Reminder! Upcoming E-rate Program Webinars


Participants in the Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program are invited to join USAC for a series of webinars about the E-rate Program. If you aren't already signed up, register today! These webinars will include updates from the recently released Second E-rate Modernization Order, and we encourage you to join us for all of them. 

Register here: Category Two Budgets Webinar
Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 3:00 to 4:00 PM EST

Register here: Discount Calculations Webinar
Thursday, January 8, 2015, 3:00 to 4:00 PM EST

Register here: Urban/Rural Tool Webinar
Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 3:00 to 4:00 PM EST

Please note: Due to the large size of our virtual audience, the presenters will not accept live questions during these webinars. However, participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance using the registration form.

Webinar Recordings
All webinars will be recorded and are available for viewing immediately following the original presentation in the Schools and Libraries Program's Online Learning Library. Recordings from recent E-rate Modernization Order webinars are already available:

  • E-rate Modernization Order Webinar (originally aired November 13)
  • FCC Form 470 Online Demo Webinar (originally aired December 9)
  • Eligible Services Webinar (originally aired December 16)
  • Program Compliance Webinar (originally aired December 18)
     

12/23/2014E-rate Program Funds Available for Carry Forward from Prior Funding Years


In this letter, USAC notifies the FCC of the E-rate Program funds available for carry-forward based upon FCC guidance concerning maintenance of cash reserves.

12/23/2014Urban/Rural Tools Now Available


Two new tools are now available on the Schools and Libraries Program's Search Tools web page: the Urban/Rural Lookup Tool and the Urban/Rural Status Reports by State Tool. These tools will help you:

  • Locate the urban/rural status for an individual school or library.
  • Find out if a school district or library system is eligible for an urban/rural discount by locating the urban/rural status of its member schools or libraries.
  • Identify schools and libraries whose addresses must be updated in order for USAC to determine their urban/rural status.

For more information, refer to the instructions for each tool. You can find the appropriate set of instructions to the right of the tool name on the Search Tools page.

Note: If you are having difficulty accessing the Urban/Rural Status Reports using a mobile device, switch to a non-mobile device such as a desktop.

12/22/2014Second E-rate Modernization Order Released


On December 19, the FCC issued the Second E-rate Modernization Report and Order (Order) and Order on Reconsideration. Building on the E-rate Modernization Order adopted by the FCC in July, the improvements to the program adopted in this Order seek to close the high-speed connectivity gap between rural schools and libraries and their urban and suburban counterparts, and provide sufficient and certain funding for high-speed connectivity to and within all eligible schools and libraries. The FCC takes these actions to ensure the continued success of the E-rate program as it transitions from supporting legacy services to focusing on meeting the high-speed broadband connectivity needs of schools and libraries consistent with the recently adopted program goals and long-term connectivity targets.

12/11/2014FCC Continues E-rate Program Reboot to Meet the Needs of 21st Century Digital Learning


Today the FCC adopted an Order aimed at closing the connectivity gap by making more funding available for libraries and schools to purchase broadband connectivity capable of delivering gigabit service over the next five years. The Order also provides schools and libraries additional flexibility and options for purchasing broadband services to enable schools and libraries to meet their Internet capacity needs in the most cost-effective way possible. For more information, please see the FCC Press Release.

12/2/2014Join the E-rate Program for a Series of Webinars on FY2015 Topics


Join the Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program throughout December and January for a series of webinars on Funding Year 2015 topics. Please register for each webinar individually:

Register here: FCC Form 470 Demo
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
3:00 PM EST

Register here: Eligible Services
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
3:00 PM EST

Register here: Program Compliance
Thursday, December 18, 2014
3:00 PM EST

Register here: Category Two Budgets
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
3:00 PM EST

Register here: Discount Calculations
Thursday, January 8, 2015
3:00 PM EST

Register here: Urban/Rural Tool
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
3:00 PM EST

Please note: Due to the large size of our virtual audience, the presenters will not accept live questions during the presentation. All webinars will be recorded and will available for viewing a day after the original webinar presentation, in the Schools and Libraries Program's Online Learning Library.

Need Help?
More information about the E-rate Modernization Order is available on the USAC website. If you have any questions about the webinar, please contact USAC Outreach.

For questions about the E-rate Program, contact us via Submit a Question or call the Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100.