5. Stay on top of changes to the rules and regulations.

“Another big part of being successful in the eRate program is not being denied,” Stephens said. “You definitely don’t want to be denied on some sort of technicality, some sort of new rule that you were unaware of when you submitted your application.”

Last year, there were many regulatory and procedural changes, including brand-new Forms 470 and 471. This year, the changes are fewer—but for many applicants, it still will be the first time they will have encountered the new forms.

“We are certainly encouraging everyone to be sure they are giving themselves adequate time when they are preparing their applications,” Stephens said. “We are encouraging everybody to … review the training materials that are out there on USAC’s website.”

The more applicants can stay educated and knowledgeable about the eRate’s rules and regulations, the better their chances of success. Keeping up with deadlines and following through with every step of the process also improves your chances.

“It’s amazing how many applicants go through all that work to get funding requests approved and then for whatever reason never use them,” Stephens said.

Funds for Learning offers free news, analysis, and commentary about the eRate on its website. Readers can subscribe by eMail, RSS feeds, Facebook, or Twitter. The company also offers an online tool that helps applicants through the entire eRate process—from creating forms and staying compliant to keeping track of changes and deadlines.