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E-Rate Central News for the Week
April 25, 2016

Introduction

The E-Rate Central News for the Week is prepared by E-Rate Central. E-Rate Central specializes in providing consulting, compliance, and forms processing services to E-rate applicants. To learn more about our services, please contact us by phone (516-801-7804), fax (516-801-7814), or through our Contact Us Web form. Additional E-rate information is located on the E-Rate Central website.

Funding Status

The new filing deadline for FY 2016 applications is 11:59 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 26th. Libraries and consortia, whose applications depend on the completion of related school district data, have been granted an additional eight-week extension to July 21st. As a result of the Form 471 deadline extensions, the last possible dates for filing Form 470s for FY 2016 are April 28th for schools and districts, and June 23rd for libraries and consortia.

We expect PIA review of submitted FY 2016 applications to begin next week. The first funding wave for FY 2016 should be released by the last week of May.

Wave 47 for FY 2015 will be released on Thursday, April 28th. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 services at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 is $3.22 billion.

Updates on USAC’s E-Rate Productivity Center

Revised Bulk Upload Templates and Tips:

USAC’s Special Edition News Brief of April 20, 2016, provides information on updates to the EPC bulk upload templates and on tips for using them. Basically, there are two types of templates, both available to avoid manual entry of large amounts of data required to complete Form 471s or entity profiles.

  1. An entity profile “Bulk Submission” template to enter student counts and other basic entity data.
  2. A set of five FRN templates, one for each major category of service, to complete FRN line item and recipient of service information on an FRN-by-FRN basis.

The templates can be found within EPC, but are more easily available for download on USAC’s regular website under the FY2016 Filing Window Headquarters, as shown below.

EPC template

The Special Edition News Brief provides the following general tips for template use:

  • Use Excel version 2010. (Note: Temporary workarounds are available for users of Excel 2103).
  • Download the template and save it to your hard drive in a location you will remember.
  • Open the template and IMMEDIATELY enable content (enable macros).
  • Enter data from left to right, one row at a time.
  • If a field has dropdown values, choose the appropriate value – do not type it in. (You can use the fill down command to complete multiple rows that will have the same entry in that field.)
  • Do not enter more than 5,000 rows (actually 4,996 plus the four header rows). If you need more rows, create a second template and upload it separately. This will add to your existing data, not replace it.

Another tip we would add is to always use the most current version of the templates. Currently, five of the six templates are Version 16.3. The one exception, shown in the example below, is Version 16.4 for Category One – Data Transmission and/or Internet Access. Note that the version number is shown in Cell A1 of each template.

Last Wednesday’s News Brief also discusses:

  • Additional guidance for Funding Request Number (“FRN”) templates
  • Workaround for a “Click to Validate” problem
  • Category One – Data Transmission and/or Internet Access – Version 16.4
  • Additional guidance for Entity Profile Bulk Upload – Version 16.3

“No” Form 470, “No Worry:”

A number of applicants have reported that “Review” copies of their draft Form 471s are incorrectly showing “No” answers to the Form 470 posting question in the Agreement Information section. An example of this error is shown below for a month-to-month service, but similar errors are also being reported for contracted services. Note that, despite the “No” answer, the actual Form 470 number is displayed.

EPC

As of last week — and EPC may have been fixed over the weekend — CSB was indicating that this was a known problem, and that the “No” would not create a problem during application review. In other words — cue the reggae music — “No worry, mon!”

E-Rate Updates and Reminders

File Along with Me Updates:

A USAC blog, “File Along with Me,” initiated in early February, provides additional information on the application process. Links to last week’s postings are provided below. You can subscribe to the blog by entering your email address on the blog’s home page (under the USAC logo), and confirming the resulting email.

Post No.    Title

  1.     Add a Category One FRN Line Item: Cost Calculation and Recipients of Service
  2.     Connectivity Questions: Your Current State of Connectivity
  3.     Certify and Complete FCC Form 471: Complete, Review, and Certify Your Form

Updated Income Eligibility Guidelines for 2016-2017:

The Department of Agriculture’s revised Income Eligibility Guidelines for 2016-2017, used to determine reduced-price and free meal eligibility was published in the Federal Register of March 23, 2016. For a family of four, the qualifying income level was up only 0.2% over the preceding year. E-Rate Central’s sample E-rate survey letters have been updated and are available on our website in both English and Spanish.

Form 486 Deadlines for May:

The Form 486 deadline for certifying the start of service (and CIPA compliance, if applicable) is 120 days from the later of the FCDL approval date or the start of service date. The deadlines for May (adjusted for weekends and holidays) for approved FY 2015 applications are:

                              Wave 31                05/06/2016
                              Wave 32                05/13/2016
                              Wave 33                05/23/2016
                              Wave 34                05/27/2016

Schools and Libraries News Brief Dated April 22 – Organization Profile Requirements

The S&L News Brief of April 22, 2016, reviews the information that is needed before an applicant can complete and file a Form 471. The following sections are important:

  1. Entity information (which differs by organization type)
    1. Independent schools and school districts
    2. Independent libraries and library systems
    3. Consortia
  2. Contracts
  3. Connectivity questions
Disclaimer: This newsletter may contain unofficial information on prospective E-rate developments and/or may reflect our own interpretations of E-rate practices and regulations. Such information is provided for planning and guidance purposes only. It is not meant, in any way, to supplant official announcements and instructions provided by either the SLD or the FCC.