The Schools & Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) announced that it will open the application window for Year 4 of the eRate in early November. At press time, the exact dates this window will open or close had yet to be announced.

The eRate provides discounts to schools and libraries of up to 90 percent of the cost of their telecommunications services, internet access, and internal connections (the wiring, routers, switches, and other equipment necessary to deliver internet access to classrooms). Year 4 of the program pertains to services to be rendered July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002.

The Year 4 Form 471 (Services Ordered and Certification Form) will reflect slight modifications to the program. These modifications generally are limited to wordsmithing designed to clarify the entities covered in the worksheets and to clarify the certifications in Block 6. The new form, which replaces the September 1999 version, will be available on the SLD web site before the application window opens.

The online filing system for the Year 4 Form 471 will feature new improvements to make online filing easier, said Kate Moore, SLD president. The planned improvements include, but are not limited to, the ability to “copy” a list of entities in one worksheet into another worksheet in the same application. This ability will facilitate online filing for larger applicants who serve many subgroups of recipient entities (for example, statewide applicants).

Another improvement will be the ability to print the entire Form 471 application easily in its final form before officially submitting it online.

Remember that you can file your Form 470 (Description of Services Requested and Certification Form) for Year 4 requests for new services at any time—but the form must be posted to the SLD web site for 28 days before you can file a Form 471 application. If you haven’t already done so, you are encouraged to file your Form 470 for new Year 4 services now.

For more information on applying for Year 4 eRate discounts, check out the SLD web site at http://www.sl.universalservice.org or call the program’s toll-free hotline at (888) 203-8100.