Hurricane Relief Orders
About the FCC Emergency E-Rate Assistance Order and General Questions
The Order provides relief for two categories of applicants impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and/or Maria (Hurricanes): Directly Impacted Applicants and Indirectly Impacted Schools. Directly Impacted Applicants include schools and libraries located in counties designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as eligible for individual disaster assistance that certify that they have incurred substantial damage to E-Rate eligible services and equipment as a result of the Hurricanes (and comply with other certification requirements described below). Indirectly Impacted Schools are schools that experienced an increase of 5 percent or higher in their student populations due to serving students displaced by the Hurricanes. Individual schools can be both Directly Impacted Applicants (e.g., they are located in a FEMA-designated county eligible for individual assistance and sustained substantial damage to their E-Rate eligible equipment) and Indirectly Impacted Schools (e.g., their student populations increased by at least 5 percent due to serving students displaced by the Hurricanes).
The Order provides targeted support for Directly Impacted Applicants as they work to restore services to the pre-Hurricane level of functionality by making additional E-Rate discounts available for the purchase of services and equipment that were disrupted, damaged, or destroyed by the Hurricanes through: (a) opening a second FY 2017 Application Window; and (b) resetting per-school, per-library five-year budgets for Category Two services. It also provides additional flexibility for Directly Impacted Applicants to request service substitutions for a service or product that has been disrupted, destroyed or rendered unusable by the Hurricanes.
For Indirectly Impacted Schools, the Order makes additional funding available to defray costs of increased demand for eligible services due to serving displaced services by permitting the schools to file a supplemental FCC Form 471 to request additional E-Rate discounts.
If you are a school or library located in the counties designated by FEMA as eligible for individual assistance as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and/or Maria and E-Rate eligible equipment was damaged, destroyed, or rendered unusable, you can apply as a Directly Impacted Applicant for support to help restore your services and equipment to pre-Hurricane levels.
Directly Impacted Applicants will automatically be eligible for a 90% discount on Category One (C1) services and 85% discount for Category Two (C2) services for FY 2017 only. All funds must be used within this funding year.
In addition, Directly Impacted Applicants will have their C2 budget reset for the full amount of their budget. If you apply for C2 funding during the Second FY 2017 Application Window, your C2 budget will restart in FY 2017. If you wait to apply for funding in FY 2018, your C2 budget will reset and restart in FY2018.
Indirectly Impacted Schools are schools that may not be located in a FEMA-designated county eligible for individual assistance, but whose student population has increased because of students displaced by the Hurricanes. If you are a school serving displaced students and your student population increased by at least 5 percent, then you may apply for additional services and products needed to serve your increased student population.
Both USAC and the Commission have granted extensions of certain deadlines for certain applicants affected by the Hurricanes.
Deadline Relief for Applicants in FEMA-designated Major Disaster Areas
Applicants in FEMA-designated major disaster areas have an additional 30 days to respond to the following:
- Pending Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) questions about their FCC Forms 471 that are in the review process.
- Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) questions about their FCC Forms 471 that are in the review process.
- Any other pending USAC requests for information and/or documentation, for example, for invoice review or FCC Form 486 review.
- Any other new USAC requests for information and/or documentation, for example, for invoice review or FCC Form 486 review.
USAC will also confirm that applicants located in these areas are able to respond to requests before a response deadline is set. If USAC is able to make a successful contact with an applicant, the applicant can indicate that they are not yet able to respond. USAC will ask for an estimate of the date when the applicants believes they will be able to respond and will contact them again on or after that date.
- If an applicant is able to respond to questions, they should just respond either in EPC or directly to the reviewer. They can contact their reviewer (for PIA requests, invoice requests, etc.) if they have questions. If they do not have their reviewer’s contact information, they can open a customer service case in EPC or call CSB at 888-203-8100 for further assistance.
Deadline Relief for Applicants in Counties that FEMA Has Designated as Eligible for Individual Assistance
Schools and libraries located in the counties designated by FEMA as eligible for individual disaster assistance as a result of the Hurricanes received a blanket waiver from the FCC on October 6, 2017 (DA 17-984).
Schools and libraries located in counties that FEMA has designated as Major Disaster Areas eligible for individual assistance will have until March 5, 2018 to submit the following forms and requests:
- FCC Form 486.
- FCC Form 472.
- FCC Form 474 – The invoice deadline will be extended to March 5, 2018 for service providers who provide service to applicants covered by the order (DA 17-984).
- Appeals and waivers – If the 60-day deadline occurred or will occur after October 6, 2017, appellants will have until March 5, 2018 to submit an appeal or waiver to USAC or the FCC. Also, appellants who have missed a 60-day deadline due to damage or disruption caused by the Hurricanes will have until March 5, 2018 to submit an appeal or waiver. Parties who rely on this waiver as a basis for filing their request for review or waiver beyond the required deadline should indicate such basis in their filing.
- Service substitution requests.
- Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) change requests.
Implementation deadlines for schools and libraries located in counties designated as eligible for individual assistance by FEMA are as follows:
- The deadline for non-recurring services, other than special construction, for FY 2016 has been extended to September 30, 2018.
- The June 30, 2018 deadline to complete special construction and light the fiber for FY 2017 may be extended to June 30, 2019 if the applicant files an FCC Form 500 certifying that the special construction project was unavoidably delayed due to damage caused by the Hurricanes.
After determining the products and services that need to be replaced, review your contracts to assess if you can purchase the products and services based on your existing contracts. If not, file an FCC Form 470 to solicit bids. Be sure to label your FCC Form 470 nickname with the prefix “H2017” so the form can be easily identified.
If you are using existing contracts, your first step is to file a new FCC Form 471. Please note you will be using the FY 2018 FCC Form 471 to file for the emergency relief in the Second FY 2017 Application Window. You must apply for additional funds during the Second FY 2017 Application Window, which will be open from November 13, 2017 at 12 noon ET through December 13, 2017 at 11:59 PM ET. Be sure to include prefix “H2017” in all form labeling and nicknames so your emergency relief forms can be identified quickly. The failure to use this prefix may result in form processing delays.
In order to qualify as a Directly Impacted Applicant, schools and libraries must certify that:
(a) they are located in counties designated by FEMA as eligible for individual disaster assistance;
(b) the schools or libraries incurred substantial damage to E-Rate eligible services as a result of one or more of the Hurricanes;
(c) any additional E-Rate funding received pursuant to the Order will be used solely to restore E-Rate eligible services to the level of functionality that immediately preceded the Hurricanes;
(d) other resources (e.g., insurance, public assistance monies from FEMA, support from community organizations or donations) are not available to restore the E-Rate eligible services to their prior functionality; and
(e) additional E-Rate funding requested pursuant to the Order will be returned to the Universal Service Fund if funding from other sources causes any E-Rate funding disbursed to exceed the charges paid for restoring the E-Rate eligible services.
The Second FY 2017 Application Window opens on November 13, 2017 at 12 noon ET and closes at 11:59 pm ET on December 13, 2017.
Yes, you must still file your applications in the regular FY 2018 application filing window for services and equipment that will be needed from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
No, your FY 2018 funding applications will not be impacted if you file for emergency relief in the Second FY 2017 Application Window. You need to file applications in the FY 2018 application filing window if you will need services and equipment for FY 2018. Note that if you apply for C2 funding during the Second FY 2017 Application Window, your C2 budget will reset and restart in FY 2017. If you wait to apply for funding in FY 2018, your C2 budget will reset and restart in FY 2018.
You must follow the specific instructions for each type of specific relief. See the How to Apply Section for specific information on how to apply for the relief you are seeking.
Not necessarily. If insurance or FEMA funds, for example, are earmarked or needed for general reconstruction, those funds can be used accordingly. It is important that applicants account for the funds they receive for library and school reconstruction for audit purposes and to show, more specifically, that they are not “double dipping” for the same rendered products and services. Applicants will need to retain all documentation regarding the services and equipment requested and received through this emergency relief.
There are two categories of applicants who are eligible to receive this emergency relief:
Directly Impacted Applicants are applicants who are who are located in counties designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as eligible for individual disaster assistance (Directly Impacted Areas) and who incurred substantial damage to E-Rate eligible services and equipment as a result of one or more of the Hurricanes.
Indirectly Impacted Schools are those schools that are incurring additional costs to provide services to students displaced by the Hurricanes. To be eligible for relief as an Indirectly Impacted School, the school’s student count must have increased by 5 percent or more. These applicants may or may not be located in the Directly Impacted Areas.
Both Directly Impacted Applicants and Indirectly Impacted Schools must certify that they meet the requirements set forth in Order FCC 17-139 to be eligible for relief.
Yes, as long as you meet all of the criteria for a Directly Impacted Applicant and an Indirectly Impacted School, you are eligible for both types of relief.
To be eligible for this emergency relief, you must be located an area designated by FEMA as eligible for individual assistance as result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and/or Maria, suffered substantial damage to E-Rate eligible services and equipment. If you cannot meet all of these requirements, then you are not eligible for relief as a Directly Impacted Applicant under this Order. You may be eligible for relief as an Indirectly Impacted School if you are a school and your student count has increased by 5 percent or more and you are incurring an increased demand in E-Rate eligible services by serving students displaced by the Hurricanes.
Schools that are experiencing E-Rate eligible service cost increases due to the acceptance of students displaced by Hurricanes at a level of 5 percent or more of their pre-Hurricane student populations are eligible for additional support needed to meet the unexpected increase in demand. To apply for this relief, schools must file a new FCC Form 471 in the Second FY 2017 Application Window.
Each school serving displaced students as a result of the Hurricanes must meet the 5 percent threshold. District level increases in student population are not sufficient to meet this eligibility requirement. It must be at the individual school level.
Yes. You do not have to be located in any specific county or state to be eligible as an Indirectly Impacted School. You need to demonstrate that you experienced a 5 percent or more increase in the pre-Hurricane student population at your school, which is causing an unanticipated increase in demand for E-Rate eligible services. You will also need to certify that you meet the requirements set forth in Order FCC 17-139.
The 5 percent or more increase in student population at your school must be a net increase compared to your pre-Hurricane student count. For example, if you had 800 students before the Hurricanes, lost 200 due to evacuations and then gained 300 displaced students, your current student count would be 900 students. This is a net increase of 100 students over your pre-Hurricane count, or 12.5%, which would make your school eligible for emergency relief.
However, if your school had 800 students before the Hurricanes, lost 300 due to evacuations, and gained 200 displaced students, your current student count would be 700 students. This is a net decline of 100 students. In this scenario, you would not qualify for the emergency relief.
No, you are not eligible for relief under this Order if you were impacted by another natural disaster.
No. This emergency relief is only available if your increase in student population is the direct result of students displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and/or Maria.
Only those entities with E-Rate eligible services or equipment that was damaged, destroyed, or disrupted (in this case, school, library, or non-instructional facility) and are located in an area designated by FEMA as eligible for individual disaster assistance are eligible for additional funding. Relief is not available at locations that were not damaged by the Hurricanes.
Because your existing commitment was to serve the student population in 15 schools, you should reduce the commitment using an FCC Form 500 to reasonably serve the number of schools and the number of students that will be open during the funding year. If the schools that will be open during the funding year have a 5 percent or more increase in student population, then these schools qualify for additional assistance as Indirectly Impacted School, and you may file an FCC Form 471 during the Second FY 2017 Application Window to receive additional funds needed for E-Rate eligible services to support the influx of displaced students.
No. If you apply in FY 2018 or FY 2019 as a Directly Impacted Applicant, your discount for those funding years will be based on your actual discount rate. You will not be eligible for the automatic Category One 90 percent discount or the Category Two 85 percent discount that is applicable to funding requests filed during the Second FY 2017 Application Window.
If you are an Indirectly Impacted School, you will apply for FY 2018 or FY 2019 using your actual student counts to determine your discounts. Because your student counts will already include any displaced students, your service requests will accurately reflect the services you need.
FCC Form 470
If you are seeking discounts on services that are being purchased off a contract that was entered into as a result of the previous posting of a FCC Form 470 – and that contract is still in effect and covers the goods and service that you are seeking – then you do not have to file a new Form 470. If you do not have a FCC Form 470 or contract that covers the services and equipment you are seeking, you will need to file a new FCC Form 470. If you have to file a new FCC Form 470, you only have to wait 14 days (instead of the regular 28 days) before you can evaluate the bids and select the winning bidder. Be sure to include the prefix “H2017” in all form labeling and nicknames so the FCC Forms 470 and 471 being submitted for this emergency relief can be identified quickly.
File the forms through the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) available at portal.usac.org. Even though you are seeking support for FY 2017, the FY 2018 FCC Form 470 will be used for the Second FY 2017 Application Window. Be sure to include the prefix “H2017” in all form labeling and nicknames so the forms can be identified quickly.
Applicants filing FCC Forms 470 under this relief Order only have to wait 14 days, instead of the regular 28 days, before evaluating bids, selecting a service provider, and entering into a contract.
For all of the forms that you file, please add the prefix, “H2017” so your form can easily be identified. The failure to include this prefix may result in a delay in processing the forms.
Once the forms are submitted in EPC, USAC will make the FCC Forms 470 available in the 2018 FCC Form 470 Download tool on the Schools and Libraries section of the USAC website. Applicants should add the “H2017” prefix to the form nickname so the requests can be quickly identified by service providers seeking bid opportunities.
No. The FCC Form 470 must be filed by the entity that will undertake the competitive bidding – including the vendor selection. That same entity must enter into a contract with winning bidder.
USAC will ask for a letter or other declaration, signed by an authorized person for the school or library, describing in detail how the resources will be secured before discounted services begin, but no later than the end of the Funding Year.
To find the FCC Forms 470 for these applicants, search use the FCC Form 470 “Download 470 Information” tool on USAC’s website and search for any form with the “H2017” prefix in the “Form Nickname” field.
FCC Form 471
Yes. The purpose of the Second FY 2017 Application Window is to restore schools and libraries to their pre-Hurricane level of functionality. To the extent applicants experienced damage to E-Rate eligible services or equipment as a result of the Hurricanes, they can request funds to restore those products and services to their functionality level prior to the Hurricanes.
No, do not refile a funding request for the same services. Applications filed in the Second FY 2017 Application Window are limited to only requesting support for services and products needed to bring the networks back to pre-Hurricane functionality or to serve the additional student population.
The Category Two budget is only reset for the individual entities that qualify for relief as Directly Impacted Applicants because they are located in counties designated as eligible for individual disaster assistance and they certify that they have incurred substantial damage to E-Rate eligible services and equipment as a result of one or more of the Hurricanes. If some schools in a school district are Directly Impacted Applicants and others are not, the Category Two budget is only reset for the Directly Impacted Applicants and not for the other schools.
Similarly, if some library branches in a library system are Directly Impacted Applicants and others are not, the Category Two budget is only reset for the Directly Impacted Applicants and not for the other library branches.
No. As a Directly Impacted Applicant, your Category Two budget will be reset in the first funding year you apply for Category Two funding, whether it is the Second FY 2017 Application Window, FY 2018, or FY 2019.
Remember that the Category Two budgets for Indirectly Impacted Schools are not reset.
No. The Order does not provide any exemptions from the applicant’s responsibility to pay its own non-discounted share of costs. This amount may not be donated or waived by your service providers. Additionally, the FCC gift rules are not waived by the orders providing emergency relief.
No. The FCC Order does not provide any exemptions from the gift rules that prohibit service providers from providing free services or gifts to an eligible entity when they are also providing discounted services to that same entity.
No. There are only limited exemptions from the FCC rules pertaining to competitive bidding. These requirements include, in part, the requirement to conduct a free and open competitive bid process and to post a Description of Services Requested and Certification Form (FCC Form 470). However, if you are posting a new FCC Form 470, you only have to wait 14 days (instead of the usual 28 days) before evaluating bids, selecting service providers, and signing a contract. The price of the eligible goods and services must be the most heavily weighted factor in your bid evaluation. Furthermore, you must also follow all of your state and local procurement regulations.
In certain circumstances, however, applicants may change service providers by performing an operational service provider identification number (SPIN) change. An applicant may perform an operational SPIN change when the following conditions are met: (a) it is allowed under an applicant’s state and local procurement rules; (b) it is allowed under the terms of any contract between the applicant and its original service provider; (c) the applicant has notified its original service provider of its intent to change service providers; (d) there is a legitimate reason to change providers (e.g., the service provider is unable to perform the requested services); and (e) the newly selected service provider received the next highest point value in the original bid evaluation. More information can be found here on USAC’s web site.
Document that you lost your records due to the Hurricanes and describe the general categories of documentation that you lost. Retain that documentation for audit purposes. You may also request copies of any documentation from your service provider or other third parties. If you previously submitted documentation to USAC and you would like to retrieve the records, contact CSB and a customer service agent will attempt to retrieve the documentation for you. In Order DA 17-984 , the Wireline Competition Bureau waived Section 54.516(a) of the Commission’s rules with respect to records destroyed by the Hurricanes. Under this waiver, applicants and service providers in counties that have been designated by FEMA as Major Disaster Areas eligible for individual assistance will not be penalized for the failure to retain records destroyed by the Hurricanes so long as they certify that the records, and any copies of such records, were destroyed by the Hurricanes. However, applicants and service providers are responsible for obtaining such records, where available, from a third party upon request by USAC or the Commission.
Eligible Equipment and Equipment Transfers
Equipment located at schools and libraries that have temporarily or permanently closed may be transferred to another eligible facility. The receiving facility does not need to be eligible for the same discount rate. However, you must notify USAC of the transfer by filing an FCC Form 500.
Schools and libraries located in Directly Impacted Areas (areas designated by FEMA as eligible for individual assistance) that have incurred substantial damage to E-Rate eligible services as a result of one or more of the Hurricanes and that can make the certifications required by Order FCC 17-139 are eligible for emergency relief as a Directly Impacted Applicant. A Directly Impacted Applicant can apply during the Second FY 2017 Application Window for C2 funding at an 85 percent discount level to restore substantially damaged C2 equipment to pre-Hurricane levels of functionality.
Only schools and libraries in Directly Impacted Areas with substantial damage to E-Rate eligible services as a result of one or more of the Hurricanes are eligible for the emergency relief provided by the Order. This emergency relief makes additional E-Rate discounts available only for the purchase of E-Rate eligible services and equipment that were disrupted, damaged, or destroyed by the Hurricanes.
Because of changes in technology, a new router may have the capability for additional services that did not exist in the older router. In returning to pre-Hurricane functionality levels, a Directly Impacted Applicant can purchase a router with additional capabilities but not additional services. For example, an equivalent router may have a slot where an optional video card may be installed, but an applicant may not receive funding for a video card that would provide additional services.