The eRate program is close to celebrating its tenth anniversary and ERate stakeholders are now realizing that this is a 365 day program. For the first several years many administrators only focused on the eRate in the fall once they came back from summer vacation. Unfortunately, that mindset has caused many funding commitment denials and reduction in requests that have caused financial hardship on many schools around the country. It is imperative that administrators and eRate coordinators learn the details of the eRate program and the myriad of deadlines associated with the program that can occur any time of the year.
As you prepare to go on summer vacation here is an eRate check list for you to start thinking about:
- Item 21 Description of Service for 2006 Funding Year should have already been sent to SLD
- Be response to all USAC and SLD application inquires: Even though the FCC seems to have shown some flexibility with certain deadlines in the last few months, it is still critical to strive to meet every FCC eRate deadline. The FCC has stated in a recent appeal decision that “…the waivers here should not be read to mean that applicants will not be required in the future to comply fully with our procedural rules, which are vital to the efficient operation of the eRate program.”
- Review Summer Contact SLD Guidance: From May 26 through September 8, USAC’s Summer Contact procedure is in effect. That means that USAC must make a successful two-way contact before it can enforce its (“Deadline for Information Requests”)
- Don’t forget about the Form 486. When you receive a commitment, whether it be for the 2005 or 2006 Funding Year you will need to file your Form 486 with the SLD. The Form 486 will let the SLD now you are CIPA compliance, who reviewed your technology plan and that services have started. The deadline is a moving target and if you miss your deadline your funding will be reduced. The Form 486 needs to be sent to the SLD 120 days after you receive your funding letter or 120 days from service start, whichever is later.
- Is your technology plan up to date? A technology plan must be completed at the time the FCC Form 470 is filed and must be approved before the start of service or the filing of the FCC Form 486, whichever is earlier. Applicants are required to formally certify on the FCC Form 486 that the technology plans on which they based their purchases were approved before they began to receive service. (http://www.universalservice.org/sl/applicants/step02/technology-planning/)
- July 1: Applicants can start receiving services for Funding Year 2006
- Installation deadline looming: September 30 is the deadline for Funding Year 2005 Internal Connections Projects; Installation Deadline for Funding Year 2004 Internal Connections Projects where the FCDL was issued after March 1, 2005.
- Invoicing Deadline: Invoice deadline for 2005 Funding Year is October 30.
If you have eRate questions or need additional guidance each state has identified a resource you can turn to. To find your state eRate coordinator go to: http://www.eRatemanager.com/tools/index.php?setTab=statecoord
Schools and Libraries Website
Federal Communications Commission