Applying for E-Rate

Updated February 1, 2013

E-Rate is a U.S. government program that reimburses schools for a portion of their telephone and Internet cost. It is administered by the Universal Service Administration Corporation. (USAC) Reimbursement is based on the number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch or, in the case of private schools, the number of students that receive some portion of their tuition from a needs-based scholarship. If a school has no students receiving need based scholarships or less than 1%, the school is eligible for a 20% reimbursement. If a school has between 1% and 19% of their students receiving needs-based scholarships, the reimbursement is 40%. Schools considered rural receive an additional 5% reimbursement. For a complete matrix go to the Discount Matrix for the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

Time Commitment

Over the course of the year, in addition to writing a technology plan applying for funds will take between 12 to 15 hours. By saving all of your information and copies of forms, the following years take even less time.

Government Intervention in a School's Curriculum

A concern persists that by accepting e-rate funds the federal government can potentially mandate curriculum and/or interfere with religious programs or prayers. This is completely not true. Several AATE schools have received reimbursements since the program began in 1998 including St. Thomas More and St. John the Evangelist. Literally hundreds if not thousands of faith-based schools all over the U.S. receive e-rate funds. Your school's administration can also confirm this with the Georgia Association of Independent Schools. The Association of Christian Schools International encourages their schools to participate.

Timeline

To establish a timeline for applying for reimbursements you have to work backwards. Form 471 tells USAC exactly what service providers that you will be using and the cost for each. The deadline for 2013 is March 14 and there is no grace period. Funds requested in March will be for the following fiscal year. In other words, a Form 471 completed in March, 2013, will be for reimbursement of funds spent beginning July 1, 2013.

Working backwards, a form 470 has to be filed at least 30 days prior to the Form 471.

One time tasks:
Call USAC at 888-203-8100 and ask for a Billing Entity Number (BEN) and a NCES Code.

Create or have on hand for review a copy of your school's Internet Safety Policy. You must also be able to document that the policy was discussed or presented to the community on at least one occasion. The presentation can be a brief part of another meeting. A sample Internet Safety Policy can be found at http://www.e-ratecentral.com/CIPA/cipa_policy_sample.pdf

Go to the REQUIRED FORMS section of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) website and print the following forms: 470, 471, 486 and 472 BEAR. There are also detailed instructions for filling out each forms. If you access the instructions, don't be intimidated. Just turn the pages until you get to the block you are filling out.

Go to the Paideia School web site. Under "About Us" choose Technology and on the upper right hand side are posted Paideia's three year technology plan for E-rate and our RFP's. An RFP is short for "Request for Proposal" which basically is asking service providers to bid on a service. Many schools have a specific format for their RFP. If it is helpful,Paideia's plan and RFPs can be used as guidelines.

Every three years:
USAC divides funding into two groups. All schools receive Priority I funding. That is reimbursement for a portion of their phone and Internet cost. Priority II funding provides partial reimbursement for items such as the purchase of servers, network connections and maintenance. Typically schools must be in the 70% plus reimbursement group to receive Priority II awards. A school that applies for Priority II reimbursements must have a technology plan that is certified by an approved organization. AATE is an approved organization. USAC is very specific about what the plan must cover. Requirements are attached. Often all of the requirements can be addressed in a few pages and if the school already has a technology plan USAC's requirements can be incorporated into that plan so one plan can serve a dual purpose. USAC requires that a school begin their technology plan at the same time that they file their Form 470. The intent is that the school has given some thought to how the services that they are requesting will be used. You may be asked to produce documentation at a later date showing the plan was actually in progress. The technology plan for e-rate must be certified by June 30 before services begin or reimbursements will not be awarded for each month in the fiscal year until the plan is approved.
USAC Check List.doc

Each year:
File forms online. Work close to a printer and print each page as it is completed for future reference. The first time a Form 470 is filed, it will have to be paper certified. After that, you will receive a code from USAC so all remaining forms for that year and future years can be electronically certified.

October-November: File Form 470. This tells vendors what services the school is interested in purchasing. An RFP for each service being requested must be posted on the web for 28 days before any contracts are awarded and a Form 471 can be filed.

At least 28 days after filing Form 470 and contracts have been awarded, file Form 471. In late spring, your shool will reveive an award letter confirming reimbursement amounts.

After July 1, file Form 486, a very short form that tells USAC that services has started.

At the end of each quarter file a Form 472 BEAR form for each service provider. Form 472 is a very short form that tells USAC what money has been paid to that service provider. The reimbursement check is issued to the service provider who has 30 days to reimburse the school.

Questions or Need Assistance?

Call or email Kathy Bailey at Paideia 404-210-2324 bailey.kathy@paideiaSchool.org