The Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Co., the group that administers the eRate, announced the opening of the Form 471 filing window for Year 3 (July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001) on Nov. 10.

Applicants who have completed the 28-day posting period for Form 470, have selected their vendors, and have signed contracts as necessary for contractual services may now file a Form 471, the Services Ordered and Certification Form.

The window will remain open for seventy-one (71) calendar days and will close on Jan. 19, 2000 at 11:59 p.m. EST. All properly completed applications received by the SLD at that time will be treated as if they arrived on the same day. Applications received by the SLD after this date will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis–but given the program’s history, applications received after the window closes are not likely to receive funding.

The Year 3 Forms 470 and 471 may be filed online via the SLD’s web site (click the “Apply Online/View Forms” button on the

home page) or downloaded at http://www.sl.universalservice.org/reference/forms.asp. They’re also available via mail by calling the SLD’s Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100.

Remember that your Form 470, which indicates the services you’re interested in purchasing, must be filed and posted for 28 days before you file a Form 471 for those services–so, realistically, the deadline for filing a Form 470 while still giving yourself a chance to file a Form 471 within the window is Dec. 21. But don’t wait that long, if you can help it.

The SLD encourages applicants to file both forms electronically, if possible. This year, the electronic Form 471 features new, user-friendly features, according to the SLD: it is compatible with both PC and Mac platforms; any browser type at 4.0 and above can be used; and many of the calculations are now automated.

Also new this year: You only have to file a Form 470 for new services that you’re seeking a contract on, or tariffed or month-to-month services (like basic phone or cellular service) that aren’t currently covered under an existing contract.

Year Two funding update

Wave 19 of Funding Commitment Decision (FCD) letters for Year Two of the eRate was mailed Nov. 12. Wave 19 totaled approximately $110 million, and it brought total Year Two funding to $1.85 billion.

The SLD expected that there would be one more funding wave released Nov. 19, followed, perhaps, by a series of funding “ripples” dealing with a limited number of problem applications.

There’s a chance that there will be enough funding left over in Year Two to fund applications that were received outside of last year’s window. The SLD is expected to decide on this issue after evaluating funds left over after Wave 20, as well as any rollover of funds from the first year of the eRate.

At press time, the SLD did not have a process in place to work with applicants that still hadn’t heard anything on their Year Two funding requests, even after the final wave of commitment letters had been released. Watch the SLD’s web site (http://www.sl.universalservice.org) for a decision on this shortly.