Navigating the Form 471 PIA Review Process

March 10, 2021

Attached: PIA-Review-Guide 2021

~43% of submitted FRNs are already in Wave Ready Status!~

Congratulations to 413 PA schools and libraries that have already submitted their FY 2021 Form 471s!  Many applicants have already begun to receive PIA inquiries and this message is designed to explain the PIA review process and how to access their questions.  If you haven’t yet submitted your Form 471, please do so ASAP as the deadline is March 25, 2021.

The Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) process is a detailed USAC review of each Form 471 to determine whether the products and services requested are eligible for E-rate funding, whether you complied with the competitive bidding requirements, whether your requested discount rate is valid, whether you have stayed within your Category 2 budget, and whether you are an eligible entity.  This year we continue to see a major emphasis on substantiation of requested dollar amounts, including taxes.  All PIA inquiries are done in EPC, and all applicant responses to these inquiries must be submitted via EPC.

The PIA review process will be identical to last year, which is that the Form 471 contact will receive an e-mail indicating that a PIA reviewer has questions related to the application.  The e-mail will contain a link to the actual PIA inquiry(s) in EPC, but you must first sign into EPC before clicking on the link in the e-mail.  To see the actual questions, click on “Respond to Inquiries” at the top right corner of the PIA Inquiry Page, which will then turn the Inquiry Name into an active blue hyperlink.  Click on the hyperlink and the list of questions will appear.  You must respond to all of the questions in an inquiry at the same time.  If a question is not applicable, but the text box will not allow you to proceed without an answer, simply list N/A.

If you are unclear about the questions being asked, you may e-mail the PIA reviewer to request clarifications.  Use the e-mail address that was listed at the bottom of the original PIA reviewer’s message.

If you ever want to check and see if there are any outstanding PIA inquiries for your organization, go to Pending Inquiries at the top of the EPC Landing Page.  All “users” for the organization will see and can respond to all inquiries, even if they are not the contact for that form.  This is a great feature so non-Form 471 contacts can see the questions that are being asked of other users within their organization, including consultants.

Deadline to Reply:  These are serious inquires that must be addressed in a timely fashion.  PIA inquiries typically provide 15-day deadlines for responses but I encourage you to respond as soon as you receive the e-mail.  The sooner you respond, the sooner you’ll receive your E-rate FCDL.  If you haven’t responded to the PIA inquiry within 7 days of the initial request, PIA will send you a reminder.  If you haven’t responded after 15 days, USAC may act on the information they already have to make a funding decision (which typically means denial).

Need an Extension? You can request a 7-day extension of the original deadline if you need more time.  To do so, access your PIA Inquiry in EPC, choose Related Actions, then Request Extension.  The first extension request will be automatically granted.  If you still need more time, you may request an additional extension, but you must have a really good reason for needing an extension.

A guide to the PIA review process, including screenshots of the EPC PIA inquiry pages, is attached.  Slide 13 of the guide also shows where to find the current status of your Form 471 application.  Already, 324 FRNs are in “Wave Ready” status! The first funding wave is expected to be released around the end of April, with funding waves coming each week thereafter.

If you have any questions about your PIA inquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

– Julie


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


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