How to make sense of the new eRate gift rules

School personnel can’t accept single gifts (including meals) worth more than $20, and they can’t accept more than $50 in total gifts per year from the same service provider, according to new eRate rules.

In its Sixth Report and Order, issued in September 2010, the Federal Communications Commission codified regulations regarding gifts from eRate service providers to align with the gift rules applicable to federal agencies. Several months later, eRate stakeholders are still trying to make sense of the new rules.

Applicants are now subject to federal law regarding gifts from vendors, and any breach of this regulation is considered a competitive-bidding violation. Since the addition of the gifting rules, eRate applicants and service providers have struggled with the ambiguity of the rules and the numerous hypothetical situations they presumed they would face.

What’s more, confusion about the new eRate gift rules hasn’t stopped with applicants and service providers. The Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC), the administrative body over the eRate program, has twice sought clarification from the FCC regarding application of the rules.…Read More

Five tips for eRate success

For funding year 2012, there will be at least $2.29 billion available for distribution.

With a new eRate application season about to dawn for schools and libraries, here are five tips that can help ensure success in getting your fair share of nearly $2.3 billion in telecommunications discounts.

1. Always check the Eligible Services List (ESL) before buying.

“One thing that we always encourage applicants to do is to take a look at the Eligible Services List, which is the document that governs product or service eligibility,” said Brian Stephens, senior technology and regulatory analyst for eRate consulting firm Funds for Learning.…Read More