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March 12, 2018

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.

FY 2018:

The FY 2018 Form 471 Application Window will close Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

USAC has announced extended hours of operation for the Client Service Bureau (“CSB”) during the last six days of the Application Window.

PIA review is underway for filed applications. An increasing number of these applications have already been designated as “Wave Ready” making them candidates for funding as early as Wave 1. Funding for FY 2018 is anticipated to begin in early April.

FY 2017:

Wave 45 for FY 2017 was released Thursday, March 8th, for a total of $28.2 million. Cumulative national funding through Wave 45 is $2.24 billion. USAC is scheduled to release Wave 46 on Thursday, March 15th.

Update on Category 2 Budget Factors for FY 2018:

Last month, the FCC announced ( DA 18-163) a 1.8% inflation adjustment for E-rate funding setting the FY 2018 funding cap at just over $4.06 billion. Neither USAC nor the FCC, however, has translated the inflation adjustment into the Category 2 budget factors to be used by individual schools and libraries. The delay in providing these factors may revolve around a pending mathematical decision on multi-year rounding.

By our calculations, pending official confirmation, the FY 2018 Category 2 budget factors are:

Schools $156.23 per student
Non-urban libraries       $2.40 per square foot (but could be $2.39)
Urban libraries   $5.21 per square foot
Minimum $9,582.23 per entity

  USAC’s Category 2 budget tools must be used with a careful understanding of their differences and limitations. In particular:

  • The internal EPC budget tool, available only to authorized applicant users:
    • Reflects an unrounded FY 2018 inflation adjustment.
    • Uses current EPC entity profile data for school enrollment and library square footage.
    • Does not account for any Category 2 funding committed in FY 2015.
  • The non-EPC Category Two Budget Tool:
    • Has not yet been updated for FY 2018 inflation.
    • Uses FY 2017 entity profile data.
    • Does include FY 2015 Category 2 funding.

Newly Deployed EPC Modifications:

Last week’s USAC News Brief (referenced below) noted the following helpful EPC updates:

  • A fix enabling users to clear Copy FRN error messages.
  • The broader distribution of Form 486 Urgent Reminder Letters.
  • The availability of updated versions of Form 471 Category 2 upload templates.

Upcoming 2018 E-Rate Dates:

March 12 FY 2017 Form 486 deadline for funding committed in Wave 24. Other upcoming Form 486 deadlines include:

Wave 25         03/19/2018
Wave 26         03/22/2018
Wave 27         04/02/2018

Applicants missing these (or earlier) deadlines should watch carefully for “Form 486 Urgent Reminder Letters” in EPC. The Reminders will afford applicants with 15-day extensions to submit their Form 486s without penalty.

March 22 FY 2018 Form 471 Application Window closes at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

USAC’s Schools and Libraries News Brief of March 9, 2018, reminds applicants that contracts referenced in Form 471 funding requests must first be entered in the applicants’ profiles. Any service agreement signed — even for tariffed or month-to-month services — is considered a “contract” for E-rate purposes.

More detailed reminders are also provided on the use of state master contracts, including:

  • The proper Form 470 to be cited when using state master contracts.
  • Mini-bid requirements for using state master contracts, if applicable.
  • A link to USAC’s State Replace Contract guidance which is needed when citing state master contracts expiring after the close of the Application Window.

Finally, the News Brief notes that USAC is currently undergoing its annual audit, and that randomly selected applicants will be asked to confirm balances (i.e., commitments less disbursements) on specified FRNs as of October 31, 2017.