September “Back to School” E-rate Update

September 1, 2020

First, you guys are ROCK STARS for what you’re doing – both on campus and off – to ensure that our kids continue to be educated.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I know E-rate is the very last thing on your mind these days, so I’ll try to keep this update brief.

SECA Petitions FCC for More FY 2020 E-rate Funding for Internet:  Thanks to everyone who completed my brief survey about needing additional Internet bandwidth due to the pandemic.  Based on your feedback, the state E-rate coordinators submitted a formal request to the FCC, asking them to allow applicants to submit new Form 471s or supplement their original 471s if they need to increase their Internet bandwidth over what was requested on the originally requested.  Nationwide, we estimate that 10-15% of applicants are expected to double their Internet capacity.  In addition, we also urged the FCC to extend the gift rule waiver through June 30, 2021 so those of you receiving free or upgraded services or donated equipment can keep them beyond September 30, 2020.  I will keep you posted on both requests.

Category 2 for FY 2021:  Category 2 budgets are changing beginning in FY 2021.  A recap:  All C2, 5-year budgets will be reset beginning in FY 2021 and no unused C2 budgets from prior 6-year C2 cycle (FY 2015 – 2020) will be carried forward.  To calculate your available 5 year, pre-discount budget, multiply $167 per total district enrollment (libraries multiply $4.50 by total square footage).  The minimum per school/library amount is $25,000.  School districts and library systems with 10 or fewer schools/libraries can take advantage of higher budgets for each school/library (enrollment or minimum).  USAC has released a C2 budget tool that appears to be accurate in its calculations, taking into account all possible options for each E-rate applicant.  I’ll send out a separate message and guide shortly.

Fall E-rate Training:  Unfortunately, the fall in-person beginner E-rate trainings will be conducted online this year.  I don’t have the details finalized yet but they will be announced soon.

Have You Setup Your One Portal Account Yet:  At the end of July, USAC launched One Portal, a new sign-in system with multi-factor authentication (MFA) that applicants must use to access both the EPC and BEAR systems.  If you haven’t done so already, please take 3 minutes and set up your One Portal account now so you’re all set when it comes to submitting BEARs or any upcoming form in EPC such as the FY 2021 Form 470.  The set up process requires several steps and I encourage you to use the One Portal/MFA Set Up Guide to walk you through the process.

Pace of FY 2020 Funding Commitments:  We’re in the final stretch of FY 2020 PIA reviews.  Overall, more than 92% of PA FRNs have been decided thus far.  If you’re one of the 91 schools, libraries or consortia that have not yet received your FCDL, please know that USAC is trying hard to have all applications decided by September 30.   Note:  if your school or library hasn’t yet received their FCDL for FY 2020, and you have a new staff member taking over handing E-rate – one that is different than the name listed on the 471 – please submit a RAL Modification in EPC to make this change so the PIA reviewer knows where to send the PIA inquiry.  For help with RAL Modifications, see:

Remember to File Your FY 2020 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:  Because it is now after July 31, you should NOT check the ‘Early Filing Box’, and be careful not to be “click happy” on the CIPA certifications.  Full instructions on the Form 486 can be found at:  About 20% of the Form 486s have yet to be filed yet (not bad!) I will send a list in early September of FRNs that don’t yet have 486s filed for them, so file now and stay off the list!

File your FY 2019 BEARs Now! – The deadline to file Form 472 BEARs for recurring services is normally October 28(120 days after the last date to receive service) but this year it’s been extended until February 25, 2021 due to the pandemic.  Although the BEAR deadline has been extended, I encourage you to file your BEAR by the original deadline because in February you’ll be filing 471 applications and may forget to file the BEAR, and you want to stay in the habit of filing BEARs in the July – Oct timeframe each year.   I’ll send a message to the listserve in early September with a detailed list of who still must file (file now to not show up on this list).  A copy of the BEAR Filing Guide is available at:

Reminders for Purchasing Category 2 Equipment - When purchasing Category 2 equipment/services using FY 2020 E-rate funding commitments, please remember these important items:  1) The Service Start Date on the Form 486 and/or the BEAR Form Item 11, Shipping Date to Customer, should always be on or after July 1, 2020, even if you purchased the equipment between April 1 – June 30, 2020.  Why?  The rules permit applicants to purchase equipment 3 months before the funding year begins, but the forms cannot have dates that are earlier than the first day of the funding year.  2)  Always label your equipment and then log it in your Asset Register (equipment inventory).  A helpful guide for purchasing C2 equipment, including a sample Asset Register and PO data points, can be found at:

FY 2021 Form 470 Available – The FY 2021 Form 470 is now available to use if you need to start your procurements early.  The form and its dropdowns are unchanged from last year, unfortunately.  (For those new to E-rate, the Form 470 is the form that must be used to competitively bid all new services and equipment for which you would like to apply for discounts in FY 2021).  I will send our a Form 470 Filing Guide this fall to help you through the process.

Changing EPC Account Administrators/Adding New EPC Users - Summer often brings staffing changes and it’s important that the new staff get set up in EPC so they are prepared to file for FY 2021 this fall.  Hints:  Only EPC Account Administrators (AAs) can create new EPC user accounts and assign User ‘permissions.’  Also, only AAs can transfer their AA ‘credentials’ to another existing EPC User.  If the AA is the new staff member and the previous AA is no longer with the school or library, contact USAC’s Client Services Bureau (CSB) at 888-203-8100 and they will set up a new EPC AA account (only CSB can do this).  Also, if you need any new E-rate contacts added to the PA E-rate Listserve, please e-mail me their contact information.

Please let me know if you have any question about anything in this message or related to E-rate.  I’m here to help!

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

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