E-Rate Filing Window
Congratulations to all applicants who filed for E-rate funding support during the e-rate filling window!
Most of you are now anxiously waiting for questions from a Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviewer on the applications submitted. This can be a hectic time as organizations try to stay on top of everything. Here are five tips to help entities hit the ground running.
The PIA review is a 3-step process to verify information on the FCC Form 471s for compliance with program rules and policies. Not all applications will go through all three steps. The steps are:
Though the name “Program Integrity Assurance” sounds onerous and is exactly that for many organizations, being familiar with the process can help you better organize the necessary information and make the process much more manageable.
Regardless of the step in the process, be prepared to answer questions pertaining to:
During the PIA review process, a lot of time will be spent gathering supporting data and documents requested – so organize the records related to your FCC Form 470, competitive bidding process, and FCC Form 471 now!
Given the length and the multiple steps involved in the application process, it is common for documents to have been produced or received by several individuals in your organization. These records may be stored on PC hard drives, Google Drive, Dropbox, or file drawers (yikes!). We suggest storing all related documents in a centralized location for consistency and ease of access.
There are many options for document storage. However, ErateSync ™, a cloud-based documentation retention app by EdTechnologyFunds, is specifically designed to help E-rate applicants easily store and retrieve records by funding year and category.
Here is a list of documents to collect and store now, as it might be more difficult to find them later:
1. Competitive Bidding:
2. Discount calculations:
3. Supplemental Documentation
Please note that the list above is not exhaustive.
ErateSync™ allows for files to be stored by categories such as Competitive Bidding. Each record can also be tagged by function such as RFPs, contracts, and more to make future access more manageable.
Let’s be honest – FCC Form 471s are difficult to complete correctly. Data entry and clerical errors happen frequently. The amount of detail needed for each funding request can seem overwhelming and the dropdown menu selections are confusing to many.
Fortunately, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) recognizes this and allows applicants to correct ministerial and clerical (M&C) errors on an FCC Form 471 through the Receipt Acknowledgment Letter (RAL) modification process. RAL modifications can also be used to update entity/organization data that was not entered before E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) profiles were locked.
With a large cup of coffee (or tea), sit down and carefully review your FCC Form 471s using the following steps:
PIA reviews questions can come any time after the FCC Form 471 is submitted. However, be prepared to wait a couple of months to receive the first inquiry.
After preparing the necessary questions, the initial reviewer will issue questions via the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) portal. You will be notified by email and in the EPC News feed that there are PIA questions to be answered. Your state E-rate coordinator will also be notified.
Applicants usually have up to 15 days to respond to PIA review questions. It seems like a lot of time, but trust us, it goes by quickly.
Given that most of you are working on many projects for your school or library, we recommend reviewing requests as soon as they are received. This will ensure that you have enough time to organize responses, as delays in funding awards or funding denials are often caused by a lack of timely responses.
You can always ask the reviewer for more time if needed.
Using these tips will help you better prepare for and navigate through the PIA review process.
If you have any questions about the E-rate filling window or would to discuss your E-rate needs, feel free to contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
For an entity to be eligible for an E-rate funding discount, it must meet the program’s definition of a school or library.