Dispelling 10 common eRate myths

Myth No. 2: Technology plan approvals are always due July 1.

Facts: Not always. Applicants who request Priority 2 services must have an approved plan that covers at least part of the upcoming funding year before the start of service or before filing the FCC Form 486 (reimbursement form)—whichever comes first. If Priority 2 services starting after July 1 are not covered by an existing technology plan, the new technology plan must be approved before the start of service or the filing of the FCC Form 486, whichever comes first.

Myth No. 3: Applicants can provide internet access to all students and staff at home (for educational purposes).

Facts: Off-campus internet access currently is not eligible for eRate funding. The FCC’s “Learning on the Go” is a pilot program that allocated up to $10 million to support interactive off-premise home wireless device connectivity for only those 20 schools and libraries that were chosen to participate.

Myth No. 4: If a school in an applicant’s district or a branch in the applicant’s library system uses a year under the Two-in-Five Rule, it counts for the district/system as a whole. (The Two-in-Five Rule holds that eligible entities can receive eRate discounts for Priority 2 services only in two out of every five funding years.)

Facts: The Two-in-Five Rule applies to the individual entities listed on the Block 4 worksheet cited on the Internal Connections funding request. Entities can use two years within any five-year period, looking back or forward from that year.

Myth No. 5: An applicant who received a funding commitment for Internal Connections will get this year back if the applicant does not invoice for any equipment.

Facts: This myth is partially correct but is missing an important step. USAC considers applicants to have used a year of Two-in-Five Rule eligibility if they have received a funding commitment for Internal Connections. If no funds are disbursed for this request, applicants can get a year back if, and only if, they file an FCC Form 500 to cancel the unused Funding Request Number (FRN).

Myth No. 6: Applicants should wait for the filing window for FCC Form 471, the formal application, to open before filing their FCC Form 470 (the request for services, which launches the bidding process).

Fact: False. Applicants can file the FCC Form 470 for a funding year as soon as it becomes available online. Generally, this occurs about a year before the start of the funding year. For example, FY 2013 begins on July 1, 2013, and the FY 2013 FCC Form 470 became available online in July 2012.

Myth No. 7: Applicants can apply for Priority 1 and Priority 2 services on one FCC Form 471.

Facts: USAC recommends that applicants avoid doing this. If Priority 1 and Priority 2 services are combined on the same FCC Form 471, USAC cannot issue commitments on the Priority 1 services until a funding decision can be made on the Priority 2 services.

Laura Ascione

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