Everything You Need to Know About E-Rate Forms and Deadlines

This explainer breaks down what you need to know about the federal funding process.

Filing for E-rate funds to receive discounts on internet and telecommunications access can be an intimidating process, whether it’s the abundance of forms or the strict rules that accompany them.

To navigate the process, first, school leaders and IT need to meticulously plan the kinds of networking technology they’ll need and decide when they need it. Only after that has been figured out should they start to complete the many forms that follow.

With dozens of forms associated with E-rate due over the course of a few months, it's no surprise that school leaders can get a little overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide detailing the forms and their likely deadlines.

The Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC), which handles E-rate funding, recently released its deadlines and they are approaching fast.

But for now, take a deep breath and dive into our explainer on the forms below.

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Form 470

What is it?

Once a school district has determined the types of technology (and reviewed the list of eligible services) it is going to need, CDW•G business development manager and E-rate expert Amy Passow indicates that filing a Form 470 is the next step.

Form 470 initiates the competitive bidding process for the services that the school district wants at a discounted rate. In the form, schools and libraries indicate the services they are seeking either in one form or separate forms for each service.

Once Form 470 is submitted, applicants must wait 28 days, which is known as the Allowable Vendor Selection/Contract Date (ACD). Passow says that schools must also make sure that all possible service providers have the same access to information.

When is it due?

The last date to file a Form 470 is February 22, 2018.

Form 471

What is it?

Once the ACD is over, schools can file a Form 471, which is a description of the services ordered from a specific service provider. Before filing Form 471, schools must have their signed contracts with the service provider they have chosen.

On Form 471, applicants should include:

  • Recipient of services (specific school)
  • Discount calculations
  • Cost of services
  • Dates of service
  • Service provider

In addition to the description of services, schools also need to certify that they have complied with rules (i.e, the ACD).

When is it due?

The window to file a Form 471 closes on March 22, 2018.

FCDL

What is it?

Once a Form 471 is filed, the application review process begins. Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviewers at USAC check the form for completeness and accuracy.

PIA reviewers may have additional questions for applicants who have 15 days to respond to these questions. For this reason, Passow suggests that multiple people at a school be involved in the application process, so someone is always there to answer a question.

After the reviews, USAC issues a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) containing its decisions on the school’s funding requests.

After an FCDL is received, schools can start preparing to receive the services. Here’s an example of what the letter looks like.

Form 486

What is it?

Also known as a Receipt of Service Confirmation and Children’s Internet Protection Act Certification Form, Form 486 lets USAC know that services have started. This form is filed after the FCDL is received.

In addition to indicating that services have started, schools also need to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. Schools can do this by explaining the content filtering software on their networks.

When is it due?

Form 486 must be postmarked no later than 120 days after the services start or 120 days after the date of the FCDL, whichever is later.

Form 472

What is it?

Also known as the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form, Form 472 is submitted to USAC to request the discount for the eligible services. The form must be submitted once the school has received services and paid in full for them.

BEAR Forms can be submitted monthly, bimonthly, quarterly or annually, but services must be paid in full.

When is it due?

This form is due 120 days after the last date to receive service or 120 days after the date of the Form 486 Notification Letter, whichever is later.

Form 498

What is it?

To receive reimbursement from BEAR, applicants submit a Form 498, which collects contact, billing and remittance information.

When is it due?

It is due at the same time as the Form 472, because BEAR payments will only be authorized with this form.

How to Adjust Your Services Requested and Dates

If a school needs to adjust the funding commitments or modify the dates of the services (or both), Form 500 must be submitted.

Applicants still need to file the Form 486 to notify USAC that the service provider will be invoicing them, but Form 500 can be submitted to do all of the things below:

  • Adjust the service start date

  • Adjust the contract expiration date

  • Cancel a Funding Request Number

  • Request a service delivery extension

  • Notify USAC of an equipment transfer

When is it due?

Like a Form 486, a Form 500 cannot be filed until the school receives a commitment letter. This form should then be filed as soon as an applicant is aware of the new situation.

For more on the complicated world of E-rate, check out our content hub. We’ll update it periodically with new resources.

Not sure what tech you'll need to meet your educational goals? Be sure to check out CDW•G's ​resources on E-rate.

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Nov 03 2017

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