Funding Year 2017 – Let’s Get Started!
November 14, 2016
Funding Year 2017 official starts July 1, 2017 (recurring services) and April 1, 2017 (non-recurring purchases), and as such, it’s time to begin the application process for next year! Below is a synopsis of what is changing/not changing for FY 2017 and I strongly encourage you to read this message in its entirety. A Form 470 Guide and competitive bidding reminders will be sent in a separate message.
- EPC and Forms: The EPC Portal, Form 470 and Form 471 are not changing for FY 2017. I suspect EPC will be around through FY 2018 and USAC will unveil an entirely new E-rate Portal System for FY 2019.
- Eligible Services: The eligible services list is not changing for FY 2017 except for a few minor tweaks related to whether applicants connecting two schools on the same campus must use C1 or C2 funding (we should be receiving more details on those clarifications soon).
- Voice Discounts: FY 2017 is the 3rd year of the voice phase out, with the voice discount being 60% less than your current Category 1 discount. Meaning, if your C1 discount is 60%, you no longer will receive voice discounts in FY 2017. If your C1 discount is 70%, voice discount = 10%. If C1 is 80%, voice discount = 20%. If C1 discount is 90%, voice discount = 30%. Voice includes PRI lines, VOIP, SIP Trunks, POTs, Long Distance, Cellular Voice, etc.
- Form 471 Filing Window Dates: The Form 471 “window” has not yet been set, but USAC knows the window will not open prior to February 1, and will not close earlier than March 31 – thus hinting at a 60-day window. Yes, this is about 10-15 days shorter than previous years (last year was an anomaly because of EPC issues) but USAC believes that because you can enter the discount data and contract records in EPC prior to the window opening, the actual application window doesn’t have to be as long. Also, the earlier the window closes, the sooner you will receive funding commitments! Planning: be sure to have all of your contracts taken to your board at their February meeting, if possible, with the March meeting being a fall-back option.
- Separate Library/Consortia Filing Window? USAC has stated that there will NOT be two separate Form 471 filing windows for FY 2017. In order to achieve this, all school enrollment/NSLP data must be entered in EPC and “locked down” prior to the 471 window opening because library and consortia applicants use schools’ discount data. But don’t enter the data yet! Read on…
- Enrollment/NSLP Data Lock Down: Schools will have the choice of using the data currently showing in their EPC profiles or updating it using Fall 2016 data (one data set or the other must be used – you can’t use one year for some schools and another year for other schools). If you decide to use updated data, USAC has asked that applicants NOT update their enrollment/NSLP data in each school’s profile until they give the green light which is expected to come in late December/very early January.
- Form 470 Filing Window: There is no 470 filing window. This means that you should be filing your Form 470s now, conducting your bid evaluations in January, taking your contracts to the board in February, and filing the 471 in early March. A separate 470 message is coming…
- PEPPM Mini-Bids: The PEPPM mini-bid procurement process has not changed for FY 2017 and public schools choosing to use this option can begin to issue their PEPPM mini-bids now. Details can be found at: http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121 and a separate listserve message will be issued in the next few days.
- Connectivity Survey in EPC: Applicants do not have to update their Internet/WAN/Wi-Fi Connectivity Survey in EPC unless data has changed. I’ll send a separate message to the listserve in the coming weeks showing what each entity entered for their connectivity data last year so you can easily determine if the data is still accurate.
- Category 2 Rolling 5-Year Budget Clarification: Last week, USAC issued a clarification related to rolling 5-year Category 2 budgets. Previously we were told that EACH SCHOOL had its own 5-year rolling budget. In reality, each DISTRICT has a rolling 5-year budget, with Year 1 calculated as the 1st year ANY school in the District receives E-rate funding. Also, I’ve received several questions in the last week about whether the 5-year C2 budget initiative will continue after FY 2019 and I can only tell you that the current FCC rules say that the C2 budget initiative will revert to the old 2/5 system unless the FCC takes action to continue it in FY 2020 and beyond. It’s too early to tell what E-rate reforms the next FCC Chairman/Administration may wish to enact/extend over the next four years.
- Self-Provisioned Fiber Clarification: USAC has clarified that applicants seeking self-provisioned fiber (owning your own fiber) must issue and RFP and seek bids for both leased lit fiber and leased dark fiber services and compare all three when doing their bid evaluation (minimum 6-week bidding period). Unchanged: Applicants seeking leased dark fiber must issue an RFP and bid leased lit fiber and compare the two (minimum 6-week bidding period). Unchanged: Applicants seeking leased lit fiber should issue an RFP but are not required to compare any other fiber options (minimum 28-day bidding period).
I am optimistic that Funding Year 2017 will go much more smoothly than last year and I encourage you to get started now! If you have any questions about anything in this message, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Funding Year 2017 – Here We Come!
Julie Tritt Schell