Form 470 introduces applicants into the eRate program. The form basically tells the SLD who you are and what you want. It should be filed by the entity responsible for negotiating contracts for eRate eligible services on your behalf.

Everyone who applies for the eRate must file a Form 470 for both new AND existing services. Even if the services you’re applying for discounts on are covered under a pre-existing contract, you still have to file a Form 470 and observe the 28-day posting period before you can file your Form 471.

The person authorized to order services must sign and date the Form 470, even if it was filed online. The signature page must be mailed to the SLD; eMail and faxes will be rejected.

Because they aren’t covered under contract, tariff services should be listed as “new” services each time you apply for the eRate.

Remember that you can’t request eRate discounts on your Form 471 for services that don’t appear on a Form 470—so make sure your Form 470 includes requests for as many services as you think you’ll need in the coming year.

Pre-existing contracts

Services covered by pre-existing contracts don’t have to be rebid. For the 1999-2000 program year, a pre-exising contract is defined as:

• Any multiyear contract signed on or before July 10, 1997;

• Any multiyear contract signed during the 1998 program year, after posting a Form 470 for 28 days and taking bids; or

• Any contract signed after “pre-posting” a Form 470 and taking bids before the application window opened Dec. 1.

Multiyear contracts signed after July 11, 1997, that were not part of the eRate’s competitive bidding process last year will need to be rebid. This includes contracts signed after July 11, 1997 and before the SLD’s web site opened for business on Jan. 30, 1998. Such contracts were honored as “pre-existing” under last year’s program, but won’t be honored as such this year.

“Pre-posting” means posting a Form 470 to the SLD’s web site before the application window opens to get a jump on the bidding process. This is allowed under the rules of the eRate, and it can greatly benefit schools that need extra time to manage the bidding process for large and complex projects.

Note, however, that if you pre-posted your Form 470 before the window for the 1999-2000 program year opened Dec. 1, you still need to resubmit the same Form 470 within the filing window and observe the 28-day waiting period before signing a contract and filing a Form 471.

Signing contracts

Information from your Form 470 will remain posted on the SLD’s web site during the 28-day posting period. During that time, vendors may ask for your RFP or additional information on the services you’re requesting. You may consider bids from vendors solicited in response to your posting; however, you must comply with all state and local procurement laws as well.

The only vendors that are required to provide discounts to eRate applicants are local and long-distance telephone companies. All other vendors provide discounts on a voluntary basis. You may want to insert clauses in your RFP specifying that the successful bidder must participate in the eRate program by obtaining a service provider identification number (SPIN) and submitting the proper forms.

You may also want to include an “out” clause stating that terms of the contract are dependent on approval of eRate discounts by the SLD.

Technology plan requirement

If you’re applying for discounts on basic telephone service only (including local and long distance service), you aren’t required to have a technology plan.

• DO NOT complete any row of Form 470, Items 12-14, other than Row 12a.

• DO check the box in Item 18 to confirm that your application is for basic phone service only.

• DO NOT fill in the boxes in Items 22 and 23 of the certification.

All other applicants must have a certified technology plan in order to participate. According to the SLD, your technology plan should include these elements:

• Goals and strategies

• Needs assessment

• Budget

• Professional development

• Evaluation

If you applied for the eRate last year, you don’t need to have your technology plan recertified unless it has expired or the agency that certified it requires you to. Your plan should reflect any changes or new circumstances since last year, though.

Minimum processing standards

The SLD has revised its minimum processing standards for Form 470 as of Dec. 22. Your application must meet the SLD’s minimum standards for processing or it will be returned to you with a summary rejection. You can correct and file it again, but you might miss the 100-day filing window.

If you submit your Form 470 online, the system will make sure you meet the minimum standards as you complete each item. If you choose to file manually, you should print a copy of the “Form 470 Minimum Processing Standards Applicant Checklist” and follow along as you complete the form.

The document is available on the SLD’s web site at:

Form 470 acknowledgment letter

For each Form 470 you file with the SLD (either online or by mail), you should get a letter acknowledging its receipt. The letter will tell you the date the required 28-day waiting periods ends. This date is the earliest you can sign new contracts and the earliest you can complete and submit a Form 471.

The SLD will verify your compliance with the 28-day waiting period by confirming that your Form 471 application was signed on or after the 28th day following the date your Form 470 was posted to its web site.