New E-rate BEAR Procedures Beginning July 1
May 5, 2016
There are four new E-rate BEAR reimbursement procedures that will go into effect beginning July 1, 2016 for all BEARs, regardless of funding year. The BEAR reimbursement process is used by applicants that pay their vendor invoices in full and then seek E-rate reimbursement from the fund. Please take note of # 4.
Starting July 1, 2016:
1) Paper BEARs can no longer be submitted.
– All BEARs will be submitted using the current Online BEAR System — they will NOT be submitted in EPC until a future year. The Online BEAR system is the one found under “Apply Online” http://www.sl.universalservice.org/menu.asp.
– Applicants will use their old PINs to access the Online BEAR System. If you don’t have a PIN, we expect CSB will have a way to generate one for you by July 1 (previously, BEARs were assigned after a paper application form certification was submitted to USAC but there are no longer paper forms).
2) Vendors will no longer certify BEARs.
– When a BEAR is submitted, it will be transmitted directly to USAC and will not go to the service provider for their certification.
3) Applicants will receive their BEAR reimbursements directly from USAC.
– Vendors will no longer receive the BEAR reimbursement payments and then have to remit a separate check to the applicant in the same amount. Essentially, vendors are removed from the BEAR process entirely (both at the form stage and also at the reimbursement stage).
4) BEAR reimbursement payments will be electronically transferred from USAC to the applicant’s bank account.
– No paper checks will be issued by USAC. Instead, applicants seeking to use the BEAR reimbursement method will be required to submit a Form 498 to USAC in order to provide their bank account information. This form is available now in EPC and applicants will want to have the 498 submitted by mid-June so they are prepared to submit their BEARs in July. I will be developing Form 498 training materials and will send to the listserve shortly.
We expect USAC to announce some type of period leading up to the July 1 cut over where no BEARs can be submitted. I would recommend that if you have FY 2015 invoices for which you need reimbursed right away (perhaps for Category 2 purchases), you should submit the BEAR (paper or online) ASAP (and you must have it certified by the vendor). Otherwise, for all recurring services and other FY 2015 BEARs, wait until after July 1 to submit. For FY 2016 reimbursements, we expect the FCDLs won’t be released until early June, so those BEARs should all be submitted after July 1 under the new procedures.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator