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File BEARs Now for FY 2018 E-rate Reimbursements

July 1, 2019

Attached: Form 472 BEAR Filing Guide FY 2018

Attached: FY 2018 BEARs Due as of July 1

~ FY 2019 BEARs Also May Now Be Submitted ~
~ Do NOT File in EPC – Use Old BEAR System ~
~ Invoicing Status of All FY 2018 FRNs Attached ~
~ BEAR Filing Guide Attached ~

The 2018 Funding Year ended June 30, 2019 for recurring services and so now is the time to submit the Form 472 — BEAR — to USAC for services in which you paid vendor bills in full from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.  How do you know if you need to submit a BEAR? The easy answer is that if you received discounted bills from your vendor, you do not need to submit a BEAR (your E-rate discounts were applied to your bill).  If you did not receive discounted bills, then you likely will have to file a Form 472 BEAR to collect your reimbursement.  Attached is a list showing the invoicing status of every FY 2018 FRN (including internal connections and FRNs where vendors have already provided discounted bills) so you can get a holistic picture of your FY 2018 funding requests.  Column A shows the invoicing status of the FRN and those highlighted in yellow require your attention and possible action.  All subsequent BEAR reminders with lists will only include FRNs where a BEAR should be submitted.

ALSO… many applicants purchased FY 2019 internal connections equipment after April 1, 2019 and paid for the equipment in full.  Assuming they have received an FCDL, those applicants may now submit BEARs for those purchases as well.  Slide 11 of the attached BEAR Filing Guide shows how to complete the form for these one-time purchases.

Very Important Notes – Please Read:

  • BEARs (Form 472s) will NOT be filed in the EPC Portal.  Instead, you must use the legacy system/method of applying at: https://www2.sl.universalservice.org/bear/login.aspx.  To get into the old system, you must use your E-rate PIN — not your EPC credentials.  If you don’t have an E-rate PIN or can’t find it, complete the short PIN Request template at: http://www.usac.org/_res/documents/sl/xls/PIN-request-template.xlsx and then upload it into EPC by creating a Customer Service Case.  USAC will then mail you a new PIN in a week.
  • Before you file the BEAR, you must have an approved Form 498.  The Form 498 provides USAC with the banking information so that your BEAR reimbursements can be directly deposited into your account.  (Remember, vendors no longer approve your BEARs, USAC reimbursement payments do not pass through the vendors, and no paper checks are mailed.)  You do not need to complete the Form 498 annually.  If you completed last year, the online BEAR system already has your banking data on file.  If you need to change your banking data, you can edit your existing 498 in EPC.  See Form 498 Section below for more information.
  • The deadline for filing a BEAR for recurring services is October 28, 2019.  DO-NOT-MISS-THIS-DEADLINE as the invoicing deadline rules are VERY strict.  If you cannot submit a BEAR by the deadline, you must submit an invoice deadline extension request (IDER) BEFORE October 28 (or whatever your invoice deadline is).  USAC will then approve a single 120-day extension.  USAC is not permitted — under any circumstance — to grant a second extension.  Also, they are not permitted to grant any extension requests that are submitted after October 28 (or whatever your original invoice deadline was).   Thus, it’s important that you begin your BEAR forms NOW.  Please don’t wait until the last minute because you’re likely to forget to file. I’ll send a list in early September of the applicants that still having funding remaining to be collected, so file now and avoid the list!  Each year, many applicants are committed funding, but then never go back to seek reimbursement. Don’t let them keep your well-deserved money.

Form 498 – Direct Deposit Banking Data Form:

  • To determine if you have an approved Form 498, log into the Online BEAR System, and if a Form 498 ID doesn’t appear in the form, it means you don’t have an approved 498 on file with USAC.  If you don’t have a BEAR PIN yet and want to see if you have an approved 498, log into EPC > Records > Form 498s > Click on 498 if one is showing to see the Status.  If no 498 is showing, then there isn’t one on file with USAC.
  • If you need to update your 498 Banking Data, log into EPC > Records > Form 498s > Click on the 498 > Related Actions > Modify Form 498.
  • The Form 498 must be filed in EPC by a “school or library official” (not a consultant).  If you’re unsure how to find or complete the 498, refer to this guide:  http://e-ratepa.org/?p=13701.  Note:  After you submit the 498, you must then upload a copy of a voided/cancelled check so USAC can be assured that the information you entered on the 498 is accurate.  USAC will issue an approval of your 498 via e-mail to the General Financial Contact.  After receiving that approval, you can THEN submit the BEAR.

A few important Q & A’s:

1) Can I complete the BEAR online?
A. All BEARs must be filed online.  No paper BEARs will be accepted.

2) Can I put all of my reimbursement requests on a single BEAR?
A. No, a separate BEAR must be completed for each separate SPIN (vendor). For example, if you have 2 FRNs that list Comcast, and one FRN that is for AT&T, you can submit both Comcast FRN reimbursement requests on a single BEAR, but the AT&T reimbursement request must be filed on a separate BEAR.

3) Am I required to have the provider approve the BEAR?
A. No. Vendors no longer certify BEARs.  Your BEAR will be submitted directly to USAC for processing.

4)  How long will it take for my BEAR reimbursement to arrive?
A.   Because service providers have been removed from the BEAR approval/reimbursement process, BEAR reimbursements will be directly deposited to the bank account that was listed on the Form 498 within a few days of BEAR submission, assuming the BEAR is not denied for some reason.

5)  How will I know when the BEAR reimbursement amount has been deposited into my bank account?
A.  The General Financial Contact and the Remittance Contact listed on your Form 498 will both receive an e-mail containing a statement with the date the reimbursement amount was transferred and the amount.  About two weeks after that, the Form 486 contact will receive a paper (by mail) BEAR Notification Letter that outlines whether the BEAR was approved, denied, or partially paid.

6) I was committed more funding than I actually spent. Can I request reimbursement for the full amount that was originally committed?
A. No. Applicants may only seek reimbursement for the exact amount paid for the service instead of just listing the full funding cap (for example, if you were committed $10,000, but then only spent $6,000, you can only request E-rate reimbursements based on the $6000).  Please know that USAC has increasingly been requesting copies of invoices when they review the BEARs as proof that you are requesting the accurate amount.

7) I spent more than what was committed on my funding commitment letter (my cap). What should I list on my BEAR — the cap or the actual amount spent?
USAC would like you to complete the BEAR with the actual figures of what you spent for the service, and not just list your funding cap amount. For example, if you spent $10,000, and had a 50% discount, you would list $10,000 in Column 14 and $5,000 in Column 15, even if you were only committed $4,000. The reason is that USAC would like to show how much applicants are actually spending on services and also so they know that you are not just listing the funding commitment amount (the cap), but have actually added up how much was actually spent in each of the 12 months using the actual vendor bills. Unfortunately, they will only reimburse you up to the amount that you were committed.

8) What if I receive my BEAR Remittance Letter and it lists that $0 was approved?
A. This typically means that there was an error made on the BEAR Form and the applicant must correct the error and resubmit to USAC.  Typically there is an explanation on the BEAR explaining what was incorrect to help identify the error.  If not, call CSB at 888-203-8100 and they can give you a more detailed explanation.

9) What if I actually received a slightly different service/equipment than what was originally listed on my Form 471 application?
A. USAC has increased scrutiny of the BEARs to make sure that reimbursement requests are for exactly what services were approved for on the FCDLs.  If you changed services during the 2017 funding year from what you originally listed on your Form 471, you should first seek a “correcting service substitution request” from USAC by using the Service Substitution link in the upper right side of the EPC Landing Page.

10)  What should I do if I didn’t use the service?
A.  File a Form 500 and cancel the FRN.  The Form 500 must be filed in EPC where you will find the link in the upper right side of the EPC Landing Page.

If you have any questions about the FY 2017 Invoice Deadlines or completing the BEAR, please contact me at jtschell@comcast.net.

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator

717-730-7133 – o
717-730-9060 – f
jtschell@comcast.net
www.e-ratepa.org

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