Responding to the concerns of schools and libraries that have yet to learn the status of their 1998 eRate applications, the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Co. has extended the deadline for filing completed 1999-2000 applications to 11:59 p.m. EST on April 6, 1999.

In order to be considered in the window, you must file a Form 470, wait 28 days, then file a Form 471 so that your entire application is received no later than April 6. Technically, this means the last day you can file a Form 470 is March 9—but the SLD is urging all applicants to file their Forms 470 no later than March 5 to ensure delivery of the completed application by April 6.

The new deadline reflects the delays in getting funding commitments into the hands of 1998 applicants. The previous deadline for filing a completed 1999 application had been March 11, but with the seventh wave of funding commitments issued Feb. 3, only two-thirds of 1998 applicants had been notified of funding.

“We have been listening very carefully to the concerns of our clients, and the feedback we’ve heard is that schools need to know their 1998 funding so they can plan appropriately for Year 2,” said SLD president Kate Moore.

“We know this plan puts pressure on the SLD to get funding commitments for Year 2 out by July 1 [the start date for the 1999-2000 program year], but we felt it was important to give applicants more time, particularly consortia applicants who need time to consult with each other about their plans,” Moore added.

Funding commitments are taking longer than expected because the process was held up by audits and because “our own initial forecast of the timing was made on the basis of very little experience, to be blunt, because this is a start-up program,” Moore said.

An additional 2-4 waves of funding commitment letters will be issued before 1998 funding is completed, Moore said. The SLD’s goal is to get funding commitments into the hands of all remaining applicants in time for them to apply for 1999, she said. A more detailed schedule of the final waves is expected to be announced soon.