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June 27, 2016


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 (516-801-7810), or through our Contact Us web form. Additional E-rate information is located on the E-Rate Central website.

FY 2016:

The second funding wave for FY 2016 was not released last week as the result of a “technical challenge.”  As noted in USAC’s News Brief referenced below, Wave 2 is expected to be released later this week.

Libraries and consortia, whose applications depend on the completion of related school district entity data, were granted an additional eight-week extension to July 21st. For those still experiencing application problems, USAC released additional library guidance last week (see Post 53) entitled “Troubleshooting for Libraries and Consortia, Part 2.”

FY 2015:

Wave 56 for FY 2015 will be released on Thursday, June 30th. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 services at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 is $3.30 billion.

BEARs and Form 498s:

July 1st is a critical BEAR date. As of July 1, 2016:

  1. All BEARs filed by applicants, regardless of funding year, must be completed online.
  2. Service providers will no longer be required to acknowledge/approve BEARs.
  3. BEAR reimbursement payments will be made directly to applicants.

To facilitate these changes, several key details should be noted.

  1. BEARs must be filed through the Apply Online BEAR system — not through EPC.

    BEAR Filing

    As currently configured, the online BEAR system still requires service provider acknowledgement. As such, it will have to be modified by July 1st. To avoid being caught in the transitional period, we recommend that applicants not use the existing BEAR filing system until the changes have been made.
  2. Applicant Login to the BEAR system requires a PIN. An applicant, who has not been using non-EPC online forms and who does not have a PIN, can request one from the Client Service Bureau (888-203-8100). Instructions for obtaining a PIN are discussed in USAC’s latest News Brief discussed below.

    EPC Applicant Login
  3. Although BEARs themselves are not filed through EPC, every applicant seeking direct BEAR payments — which USAC will pay electronically — must first use EPC to file a Form 498. This is a new applicant form. The key purpose of the Form 498 is to provide USAC with the necessary bank account information. A Form 498 can be completed only by a designated “School or Library Official” or “General Financial Contact.”
  4. Several weeks ago, as a part of USAC’s review and approval of Form 498s, USAC began reaching out to applicants who had already filed Form 498s to confirm the bank account and bank routing information by providing either voided checks or monthly statements for the associated accounts. Initially, this outreach was a bit haphazard. As of last week, the confirmation requests were standardized in the form of the following email:

    Form 498s
  5. Once a Form 498 is reviewed and approved, USAC will send the following email to the applicant contact:

    Form 498 is reviewed and approved

Comments on the Proposed ESL Due July 5th:

The FCC is seeking comment on the draft Eligible Services List (“ESL”) for FY 2017. The Public Notice (DA 16-615) contains a summary of changes and the proposed ESL itself. Comments on the proposed ESL are due July 5th; reply comments are due July 20th.

USAC’s Service Provider Training Information:

The first of USAC’s annual spring training sessions for service providers was held last Monday in Los Angeles. A second session will be held this Thursday in Atlanta. The following agenda and presentation information is available (note the addition of the “Fiber Essentials” material):

Agenda and Presentations

Agenda: 2016 E-rate Program Service Provider Training E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 Agenda

  1. Opening Remarks E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - Eligible Services
  2. Introduction to E-rate Introduction to E-rate Service Provider Training 2016
  3. EPC Fundamentals - Live Demonstration x
  4. Invoicing E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - Invoicing
  5. Fiber Essentials E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - Eligible Services
  6. Eligible Services E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - Eligible Services
  7. All About Audits E-rate Service Provider Training 2016 - All About Audits

Form 486 Deadlines for June–July:

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 July and the remainder of June (adjusted for weekends and holidays) for approved FY 2015 applications are:

                           Wave 38                06/27/2016
                           Wave 39                07/01/2016
                           Wave 40                07/11/2016
                           Wave 41                07/15/2016
                           Wave 42                07/22/2016
                           Wave 43                07/29/2016

As discussed in the “BEARs and Form 498s” article above, an applicant seeking reimbursements for FY 2015 (or any funding year) on or after July 1st will first have to file a Form 498 in EPC, and then file a BEAR (Form 472) in the legacy Apply Online system. Access to EPC requires a registered email address, a password, and the appropriate user permission. Access to the online BEAR system requires a Personal Identification Number (“PIN”). All identification information is both user-specific and applicant-specific.

The S&L News Brief of June 24, 2016 discusses the process and information requirements for obtaining a new PIN, if required, through the Client Service Bureau (“CSB”) by opening a customer service case in EPC. A template is available for providing the necessary information to obtain one or more PINs. Newly assigned PINs are mailed to the individual users, so advance planning prior to beginning the BEAR process is required.