January 2021 E-rate Update

January 6, 2021

Happy New Year, E-raters!

I hope everyone had a wonderful, healthy holiday and you’ve returned to your school or library with your mind and body refreshed and ready to tackle the FY 2021 E-rate application process!  If you haven’t started yet – NOW IS THE TIME.  Below are a few important updates.

FY 2021 Form 471 Filing Window Dates

The Form 471 Window will open on January 15 and will close on March 25.  Please try not to wait to take new contracts to your boards in March – do whatever you can to post your 470s now and take new contracts to your boards for approval in February.  If you have an existing service in a multi-year contract or have already closed your competitive bid and obtained a signed vendor contract, you can file your Form 471 as soon as the window opens on January 15.  File early!

Deadline to Update Enrollment/NSLP Data in EPC is January 13

Although most schools and libraries will not be updating their enrollment/NSLP data this year due to smaller enrollments and schools not operating NSLP programs, if you wish to do so, the deadline to make entity profile updates in EPC is January 13.   For information to help you decide whether to update your profiles this year, and a Guide to assist if you do, please see:  http://e-ratepa.org/?p=32887.

FY 2021 Form 471 Will NOT Require C2 Listed by Building

USAC has just clarified the FY 2021 Form 471 will not require applicants to list Category 2 equipment by school/library building due to the FCC rule change that instituted district-wide C2 budgets.  This is wonderful news!  Applicants will still be required to maintain an asset inventory to track where every piece of equipment is located (by room).   Based on this new Form 471 guidance, if you have no yet released your C2 RFP/Form 470 or PEPPM mini-bid, you may wish to aggregate your equipment quantities and not break them down by school (it’s up to you).

Post FY 2021 Form 470’s (or release PEPPM mini-bids)

If you have any existing services that are MTM or have contracts expiring before June 30, 2022, be sure to file a Form 470 to competitively bid those services as soon as possible if you haven’t done so already.  When filing for Internet, be sure to refer to this guide as the 470 drop downs are confusing again this year:  http://e-ratepa.org/?p=32828.  For assistance with RFP and Form 470 narrative development, use this helpful guide:  http://e-ratepa.org/?p=32871.   If you’re using the PEPPM Mini-bid procurement option for your Category 2 requests, be sure to review and follow the detailed PEPPM Guide and templates available at:  http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121.

Reminder to Use Most Recent Category/Vendor List for PEPPM Mini-Bids

For schools that have chosen to use the PA State PEPPM Contract as the procurement option for their E-rate Category 2 applications, be sure to always download and use the most recent version of the PEPPM Category/Vendor List on the Master Contracts page of the PA E-rate website:  http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121.  Some vendors are making changes to their contact data, so it’s important you always have the most updated data when issuing the mini-bids to awarded vendors.

EBB – Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The newest COVID-19 relief bill, signed December 27, did not contain any changes to the E-rate program to support off-campus learning, but it does include a new $3.2 billion initiative called Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program that will reimburse participating service providers (not schools or families) for broadband internet access services up to $50/month and connected devices up to $100/device for low-income families.  EBB will be under the direction of the FCC, which has just released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to seek comment on implementation details of the initiative.  I will send complete details of the new program in a separate message.

FCC Corrects Invoicing Deadline for Late FCDLs/Late RFCDLs

The FCC recent issued an Order giving applicants and service providers up to 120 days to submit invoices after the receipt of a Revised Funding Commitment Decision Letter (RFCDL) or the successful appeal of a previously denied or reduced funding request.  This is welcome news for applicants that previously found themselves not being able to obtain E-rate reimbursement because of a nuance in an existing FCC rule.  The Order is also retroactive and provides a pathway for relief for applicants that may have been impacted.  I will send complete details of the Order, including the entities that could potentially benefit from the Order retroactively.

FCC Extends Gift Rule Waiver Through June 2021

In mid December, the FCC issued an Order that extends their E-rate gift rule waiver through June 30, 2021 so service providers can continue to offer free or discounted service and equipment to schools and libraries during the COVID-19 emergency.  This is welcome news to several applicants that have generously received equipment and broadband to help support remote learning and other COVID-19-related needs during the pandemic.  If you have any questions about the Gift Rule Waiver, please let me know.

If you have any questions, please contact me at jtschell@comcast.net!

– Julie


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


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