Graduation Week E-rate Update

May 28, 2020

Purchasing FY 2020 Category 2 Equipment Now:  Applicants are allowed to purchase their C2 equipment now, even if they haven’t yet received their FCDLs, because E-rate rules permit the purchase/installation of equipment after April 1 (3 months ahead of the start of the funding year).  Vendor invoices to schools/libraries are permitted to be dated on or after April 1, but BEARs or vendor SPIs cannot be submitted to USAC for reimbursement until July 1 (or the FCDL/486 submission date, whichever is later).  If you choose purchase equipment before receiving the FCDL, know that vendors may want you to pay 100% of the cost and then seek reimbursement from USAC via the BEAR.   When purchasing C2 equipment, please review the Category 2 Purchasing Guide that explains:

  • How to create your PO
  • Requirements to label equipment and create an asset inventory
  • When to file the 486
  • When to invoice USAC
  • Restrictions on moving equipment between buildings
  • How to substitute for newer/different equipment

PIA Reviews Actively Underway:  Lots and lots of applicants are receiving PIA outreach, seeking additional information related to their Form 471 applications.  This year we’re seeing a major emphasis on substantiation of taxes and competitive bidding.  All PIA inquiries are done in EPC, and all applicant responses to these inquiries must be submitted via EPC.  You can request an extension if you need more time to respond, but the sooner you respond, the sooner you’ll be funded.  The PIA Review Guide is available at:  If you need to make changes to your application, you can do so – prior to funding commitment – using the RAL Modification process, guide at:

Don’t Forget to Cancel Expiring Contracts:  If you are changing service providers beginning July 1, 2020 or no longer need a particular service, don’t forget to notify your existing vendor in writing that your service will be terminating on June 30.  Many contracts, even if they contain an expiration date, require that notice must be provided X number of days in advance or the contract will continue for another year.  You don’t want to be caught having to pay for service you don’t want simply because you forgot to give the required notice.

Phantom 471 Reminder E-mails:  I’ve received multiple reports of 471 “reminder” e-mails being sent to applicants.  If you get one of these, don’t worry.  It means you have an unfinished (abandoned) 471 sitting in EPC that you started, but then didn’t submit.  Simply go to your EPC Landing Page, and under My Tasks, click on the 471 link.  Then click “Discard Form” and *poof* those reminder e-mails will go away.

Remember to File Your Form 486:  The next step after receiving a FCDL (funding commitment decision letter) is to file the Form 486. It’s a very easy form to submit and I strongly encourage you to file it on the day you receive the FCDL so you don’t forget.  Two reminders:  Check the ‘Early Filing Box’ if filing the 486 before July 31, and be careful not to be “click happy” on the CIPA certifications.  Full instructions on the Form 486 can be found at:

Do You Have a BEAR PIN?  If an applicant pays vendor invoices in full, they must seek reimbursement from USAC using the Form 472 BEAR Form.  BEARs are NOT filed in EPC; they are filed in USAC’s legacy system (the system that existed prior to EPC).   In order to request reimbursements/file Form 472 BEARs, you must have a BEAR PIN that is unique to you (PINs are not shared among school or library staff).   Soon applicants will be filing their FY 2019 BEARs for recurring services, so it’s a good time to request a BEAR PIN if you don’t already have one (or had one but can’t find it).  Simply complete the short PIN Request template at: and then upload it into EPC by creating a Customer Service Case.  USAC will then e-mail you a new PIN in about a week.  (Remember that you must be an EPC User in order to create a Customer Service Case in EPC.)

New to E-rate?  If you are new to E-rate or have someone in your school or library who is new, don’t forget the helpful new E-rate Onboarding Guide that’s now available on the PA E-rate website at:

Happy Graduation Week, E-raters!  As always, please let me know if you have any questions.

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell

Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

Site graciously hosted by the Capital Area IU 15 | Site designed and maintained by Silver Penny Studio