The window for filing a Year Three eRate application closes on January 19, 2000, at 11:59 p.m. EST. All properly completed applications received by the Schools and Libraries Division (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 basisbut given the program’s history, no application received after the window closes is guaranteed to receive any funding.
You can now enter Form 471 of your application online using any computer with a browser version 4.0 or better, but beware: The effective date of submission for an online Form 471 is not when the final button is clicked, but when the signed certification page, together with all necessary attachments, are received by the SLD.
If you want to meet the Year Three application window deadline, therefore, the SLD must receive the signature page and attachments for your Form 471 by 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 19. If you wait until Jan. 19 to apply online, you should be prepared to fly to Kansas to deliver the rest of your application materials in person.
Because of the amount of information required in a Form 471, you might want to begin the online data entry process early, even before the 28-day posting period for your Form 470 is complete. This is not a problem, as long as your online Form 471 is not completed and submitted before your Form 470 Allowable Contract Date.
Online entry of a Form 471 requires the completion of a number of data screens, each of which is saved (and can be modified) from one online session to the next. To return to a partially completed Form 471 online, all you need is the Form 471 Application Number that is automatically assigned after the first entry screen is completed.
Form 470 Receipt Acknowledgment Letters
If you’ve filed a Form 470 either online or by mail, you should have received a Form 470 Receipt Acknowledgment Letter from the SLD. This letter includes two important pieces of information: the Application Number assigned to your Form 470 (which you’ll need when you file your Form 471), and the Allowable Contract Date that must be reached before you can sign a contract and submit a Form 471.
Before any eRate-eligible contract can be signed (and a Form 471 for that service filed), the service must be listed on a Form 470 and posted to the SLD’s web site for 28 days. When signing new contracts and filing Form 471s, therefore, it’s critical for you to know when the 28-day posting period is complete. The first day on which a new contract can be signed is called the “Allowable Contract Date.”
Never rely on your own math skills to calculate your Allowable Contract Date. An error of one day could make you entire application invalid. Instead, you should use the Allowable Contract Date provided by the SLD in every Form 470 Receipt Acknowledgment Letter.
If you haven’t gotten your letter yet, you can also find this information on your posted Form 470, which you can find on the SLD’s web site at http://www.sl.universalservice.org/Search_FundYear_Select.asp. Three dates will be shown at the top of each posted Form 470: (a) the date the form was posted; (b) the Allowable Contract Date; and (c) the date the certification was signed. For Form 470s completed online, two of these three dates are available immediately; the certification dates will be shown only after the associated signature pages are received by the SLD.
The new Form 471 for Year Three of the eRate requires Entity Numbers for all listed entities, not just billed entities. A school district with six schools, for example, used to be assigned a single Billed Entity Code; each of its schools was identified in earlier Form 471s by their NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) codes, or an equivalent. Beginning with Year Three, however, the district’s Billed Entity Code becomes its Entity Number, and new Entity Numbers must be obtained for all six schools.
There are two ways for schools and libraries to obtain Entity Numbers. One is to begin the SLD’s online Form 470 or 471 application process, whether you intend to complete the process or not. Based on an entity’s ZIP code, the SLD web site provides a list of all associated entities in its database, along with their Entity Numbers. The other approach is to call the SLD’s help line at (888) 203-8100. Some applicants have reported that SLD help line staff will give out no more than three Entity Numbers per call; this limitation is expected to be eliminated.
Other tips for filing Form 471
The SLD has created two new guidance documents to help you complete your Form 471: “Tips for Successfully Completing Form 471,” available online at http://www.sl.universalservice.org/apply/5tips.asp, and “Pitfalls to Avoid When Filing Form 471,” available online at http://www.sl.universalservice.org/ apply/5pit.asp. It is strongly recommended that you refer to these documents before you submit your completed application.
Year Two funding update
The last of the major funding waves for Year Two of the eRate was issued Nov. 22, though some funding commitment letters continue to trickle outmostly on what the SLD calls “problem applications.” As of Nov. 22, the agency had committed more than $1.9 billion in Year Two funds, and the average applicant received $61,916 in funding.
School districts received the lion’s share of funding, with 54 percent of letters and 75 percent of funding going to these applicants. Individual schools received 27 percent of the letters and 8 percent of the funding; libraries received 16 percent of the letters but only 3 percent of the funding; and consortia applicants got 3 percent of the letters and 14 percent of the funding.
Urban applicants received 56 percent of the letters and 69 percent of the funding; rural applicants received 44 percent of the letters and 31 percent of the funding. Nearly 25 percent of funds went to applicants who qualified for discounts of 90 percent, and nearly 30 percent of funds were distributed to applicants who qualified for discounts of 80 percent.
After 20 waves of Year Two funding, the SLD has about $300 million in uncommitted funds left over. Although some of these uncommitted funds will be held in reserve to handle appeals, the SLD is now considering whether excess funds might be applied to Form 471 applications received outside the original Year Two application window that closed on April 6, 1999.
The SLD has at least two options for using these additional funds. It could process Form 471s on a strictly first-come, first-served basis, beginning with applications received on April 7, and/or it could give priority to high-discount applicants who applied outside the window.
Although the SLD has not indicated how much of a demand for funding is represented by the applications it has already received outside the Year Two window, it is not inconceivable that newly-filed Year Two Form 471s might still be funded as well.
If you’ve had your original Year Two funding requests denied for procedural reasons, you might find it worthwhile to correct and resubmit those portions of your original applications, even if you’ve already appealed the denials. Applications for discounts on entirely new services must comply with all Form 470 posting and contracting guidelines. New applications for Year Two funding should use the original versions of the forms (and cannot be filed online).
Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Co.
phone: (888) 203-8100
fax: (888) 276-8736
fax-on-demand: (800) 959-0733