Form 471 should be filed by the “billed entity”that is, the entity responsible for paying your bills. If a school’s telecommunications bills are paid by the district, then the district should submit a Form 471 on behalf of the school.
Remember to list your local and long distance telephone service on separate lines of your Form 471. Though you probably only get one phone bill each month encompassing both services, they are actually provided by different service providers with different SPINs.
Electronic filing of Form 471
If you’re applying for the 1999-2000 program year, you now have the option of filing your Form 471 online, rather than filing a hard (paper) copy.
To successfully file Form 471 online, though, you’ll need the following technologies:
• Computer: PC (Intel-based or IBM compatible), 486 or higher
• Operating system: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT or higher
• Browser: Internet Explorer 4.0, Version 4.71 or higher (with capability for running Visual Basic scripts). To determine which version of Internet Explorer you have, click “Help” at the top of your browser, then click “About Internet Explorer.”
During this pilot year, the online version of Form 471 will NOT be available to applicants using:
• Macintosh computers or other non-PC (Intel/IBM-compatible) computers
• Non-Internet Explorer browsers, such as Netscape
• Versions of Internet Explorer earlier than IE 4.0/V 4.71
If you cannot or choose not to file your Form 471 online, you can still download and print a hard copy of the form and its instructions from the SLD’s web site or call (888) 203-8100 to request a copy by mail.
If you do decide to file your Form 471 online, certain items must still be mailed to the SLD, including your discount calculation worksheet and signature page.
Eligible vs. ineligible services
The SLD has promised to post a more detailed matrix of eligible and ineligible servicesincluding a clarification of some of the gray areason its web site soon. In the meantime, you can consult the current matrix at:
Examples of eligible and ineligible telecommunications and internet access services include:
• Eligible: Basic phone service; T-1, 56K, or ISDN lines; dial-up access; direct internet connections; eMail; and wireless connections.
• Ineligible: Voice mail; Yellow Pages; and online content (only the access itself is eligible).
Examples of eligible and ineligible internal connections include:
• Eligible: Wiring, routers, hubs, switches, network servers, system software, wireless local area networks, and private branch exchange (PBX).
• Ineligible: Desktop computers, fax machines, modems and cable modems, firewalls, electrical wiring, and telephone handsets.
If you have a question about whether a particular service is eligible or ineligible, you should fax or eMail your question to the SLD. That way, you have a paper trail to back you up if you’re given a wrong answer.
If you’re still not sure, it can’t hurt to apply and hope for the best. Be sure to list any questionable services as separate line items on your Form 471, though. The SLD makes funding decisions on a line-by-line basis, and you don’t want to jeopardize funding of a legitimate request by including a questionable service on the same line.
Shared vs. site-specific services
Any service you can tie to a particular site should be listed as a site-specific service for the purpose of calculating its discount. This is important when filling out Items 15 and 16 of your Form 471.
The general rule on shared vs. site-specific services is as follows:
• Telecommunications services are almost always shared among multiple school or library buildings and would be listed in Item 15. You would then calculate discounts on these shared services by taking a weighted average of the discount levels of each individual entity, as indicated in the form’s directions.
• Internet access is most often shared, unless it is a dedicated connection from a single building directly to an internet service provider, in which case it would be considered site-specific.
• Internal connections are almost always site-specific and should be listed separately for each building in Item 16. One exception: a district-level internet server that supports local schools would be considered “shared” and should be listed in Item 15.
When calculating your discount, remember that it’s the percentage of your students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches, NOT the percentage of your students who participate. To get a more accurate count, consider using alternate methods such as financial aid records (if you’re a private school that charges tuition), student participation in other federal or state government programs, or family surveys of household income.
A useful resource is the free “Discount Rate Calculator” offered by E-Rate Central, a web site operated by the New York State Education Department. Designed to calculate aggregate discount rates for school districts using a student-weighted average, the program can be used to generate the required Form 471 worksheet attachment. The calculator can be downloaded in Excel format from the E-Rate Central web site archives at: