Dissecting Form 486

Form 486 verifies that you are receiving the services you’ve requested discounts for and gives the green light to the SLC to begin processing invoices from your vendors. It also verifies that you have a technology plan approved by an SLC-authorized agency.

There are five cases in which you’ll need to fill out and submit a Form 486:

• Receipt of a funding commitment letter for existing services;

• Start or receipt of approved new services;

• Early termination of services;

• Extension of a contract expiration date;

• Decision to cancel a Funding Request Number for services.

Think of Form 486 as a “start or stop payment” form. You must file a Form 486 within five (5) business days of receiving your commitment letter for existing services, and within five (5) business days of the start date for new services, to let the SLC know to start payment to vendors on their invoices.

You also have to file a Form 486 immediately if the delivery of a service is terminated before the contract expiration date indicated on your Form 471 (Items 15 or 16, Column 5), or if you want to cancel a funding request altogether, to let the SLC know to stop payment to vendors on their invoices.

The fifth reason to file a Form 486 would be to extend the expiration date of a contract within the current program year. Because the FCC’s Fifth Order extended the first eRate cycle to June 30, 1999, you’ll probably want to extend your contracts with service providers to reflect that extra six months of funding. Form 486 lets the SLC know that you have done so.

The person who completed your Form 471 (often referred to as the “Billed Entity” by the SLC) should also file Form 486. You can choose either to file one Form 486 for all your Funding Request Numbers (FRNs), or submit separate forms for each FRN.

The form’s header (Block 1) has a space for a new SLC innovation—a bar code so the SLC can track your form. It also contains a space for an “Application Number.” This is a number or designation that YOU select and assign to the form for purposes of identifying and distinguishing it from others. If you’ve filed more than one Form 486 and you need to confer with the SLC to resolve a problem, then you can refer to the correct Form 486 by its number.

Tips for completing the form

If there’s a discrepancy between the information contained in your funding commitment letter and what you believe to be true—for example, if the SPIN listed in the letter is incorrect—you should hold off on filing a 486 until you’ve contacted the SLC via mail. Otherwise, here’s a breakdown of what’s required on Block 2 of the form (“Services Received”):

• Columns A-D: To fill these out, you can use information taken straight from your funding commitment letter. Column A asks you for the number of the Form 471 you’re referring to, which can be found in the header of your commitment letter. Coulmn B asks you for the FRN of each service; Column C for the service provider name, and Column D for the SPIN.

• Column E, “Actual Start Date”: In your funding commitment letter, the line marked “Effective Date of Discount” reflected the date your contract was awarded; here, you’ll tell the SLC when those services actually began. Think of this as the earliest date at which you (and the SLC) should be billed for those services.

• Column F, “Early Termination of Service Date”: You only have to fill this out if the delivery of a service that you’re being billed for on a regular basis, such as telecommunications services or internet access, is terminated before its contract expires.

• Column G, “Contract Extension Termination Date”: Because of the extra six-month period added to the 1998 program cycle, virtually everyone will put something here. DO fill this line in (most likely with “06/30/1999”) for:

(1) Tariff services: Because these services are not under contract, they are extended to the end of the program cycle automatically; but you need to let the SLC know you’re going to be using the same service provider by filling this line in (the SLC won’t just assume this).

(2) Contracted telecommunications services or internet access, if your contract expires between Dec. 31, 1998 and June 30, 1999.

(3) Contracted internal connections, if the contract expires any time before June 30, 1999.

For all the above services, you must proactively extend your contract with your service provider as well.

DO NOT fill in Column G, though, for contracted telecommunications services or internet access if your contract expires after June 30, 1999 (because you’re already covered for the extra six-month period).

At press time, a decision had not yet been made by the FCC whether to allow a contract extension for telecommunications services or internet access in which your contract expires before Dec. 31, 1999. If you fall into this category, check with the SLC to see whether you can extend your contract to June 30, 1999.

• Column H, “Cancel FRN (Yes/No)”: This cancels the discount funding authorized by the SLC for a service and allows no more invoices to be processed on it.

You might terminate a funding request number if you realize that you don’t need a particular service after all (you didn’t get funding for internal connections, for example, so now you can’t purchase internet access), or if you decide to cancel a service partway through its delivery (you’re totally dissatisfied with your service provider, say).

You MUST complete Column H with either “yes” or “no.” Be careful if you check “no,” however; it’s a decision you can’t reverse once the SLC has processed your Form 486.

If you indicate “yes,” then you must leave Columns E-G blank and answer Column I with “no.” If you indicate “no” in Column H, then at least one entry is required among Columns E-G, and /or “yes” is required in Column I.

• Column I, “Applicant to Submit BEAR Form (Yes/No)”: If you’ve made special arrangements with your service provider, you may not need to file a BEAR form; but otherwise, if you’ve already paid for a service in full, you’ll have to submit a BEAR form to receive reimbursement.

Block 3 of Form 486 certifies that you have an approved technology plan. You’re required to fill in all fields of Block 3—particularly Item 7, in which you indicate the agency that certified your plan. The only circumstance in which you can leave this blank is if you applied for plain old telephone service (POTS).

Your original signature is required on the form—it can’t be a copy. To help the SLC verify that your signature is an original, rather than a copy, you may want to sign it in blue ink instead of black.

Processing of Form 486

Form 486 will be returned to you if ANY required fields are left blank, so be sure to supply all required information. If the form is returned to you, you can correct and resubmit it.

According to the SLC, Form 486 problem resolution will be conducted over the phone in most cases, rather than through fax. Once your form is processed, the SLC will notify your service provider that it’s okay to begin invoicing them. The SLC will NOT be notifying applicants—so if you don’t hear anything about your Form 486, don’t panic.

NOTE: Since the SLC doesn’t plan to notify applicants unless there’s a problem with their Form 486, you should submit your Form 486 via “return receipt requested” or certified mail. That way, you have proof that it was delivered to the SLC and proof of the delivery date.

eSchool News Staff

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