ECF Window 1 Closes – What’s Next?

August 16, 2021

Congratulations to the 253 PA applicants submitted 304 applications by the deadline, requesting approximately $148 million.  Applicants included 184 school districts, 7 CTCs, 30 charter schools, 5 IUs, 3 nonpublic schools, and 24 libraries.  Unlike E-rate, there is no central data-reporting tool yet available so I can’t provide granular application data today, but will do so as soon as it I have it.  Based on conversations with my counterparts in other states this morning – which is totally unofficial, I do not believe demand will exceed the $7 billion cap.  I will keep you posted as we learn more, including if and when the FCC will open Window 2 and what the timeframe will be eligible purchases (retroactive or prospective).

Still Need to File?

If you missed the deadline, please submit your ECF Form 471 application ASAP and then submit a waiver request to the FCC.  The waiver request instructions can be found at:  Be sure to provide a good explanation for why you missed the August 13 deadline because there is no precedent for the FCC to approve your waiver request, unlike the E-rate program.  If you still want to apply, please submit your application ASAP and request a waiver — don’t wait for Window 2.

What’s Next?  

1. PIA Inquiries

USAC has a separate PIA team of reviewers that are actively conducting outreach for submitted applications on which they have questions or need additional information.  PIA outreach notifications will come via e-mail from “; on behalf of; Emergency Connectivity Fund Admin” so please white-list both of these e-mail addresses.  If you receive a PIA inquiry, the subject line will be “Emergency Connectivity Fund Information Request: FCC Form 471 Application ECF2021xxxxx”.  Before clicking on the “Click here to respond to inquiries link” in the body of the message, log-in to the ECF Portal at

Most PIA inquiries will contain an attachment in the portal which explains exactly the information they’re seeking.  To reply, click on “Contact Reviewer” in the top right corner of the page.  If you’re unsure how to respond or think a proposed modification/denial is being made in error, don’t hesitate to push back or e-mail me if you’re unsure.  These are new reviewers working on a steep learning curve under incredibly tight timelines so mistakes can be expected.

2. Funding Commitment Decision Letters

ECF FCDLs are expected to be issued in weekly funding waves, with the FCDL being sent to the 471 contact.  I’m not yet sure when they’ll begin, but wouldn’t be surprised if Wave 1 is issued by the end of August.

3. Documenting Unmet Needs of Actual Students, Teachers & Library Patrons

During the Form 471 application stage, applicants only were required to provide their “best estimates” of their students, teachers, or library patrons’ unmet needs.  However, when schools or their vendors file for ECF reimbursements they may only request reimbursement for approved equipment or broadband services provided to actual students or teachers who otherwise lack connected devices or internet access sufficient to engage in remote learning (no estimates or spares).  Schools may be asked to provide documentation related to the equipment assigned to the these students or teachers, demonstrating this unmet need.  Therefore, it is especially important that schools compile this information prior to submitting the ECF BEAR Reimbursement Form and be prepared to submit it to USAC upon request.  I will be sending more information soon on what data you should be gathering from these students or teachers to demonstrate your compliance.

For libraries, ECF rules require that patrons checking out ECF-funded equipment or services must be provided with a copy of an eligible use policy which explains that the equipment or service is intended for library patrons who do not otherwise have access to a connected device or services sufficient to meet the patrons’ needs, AND patrons must sign and return a statement saying they would otherwise lack such access.  Copies of these signed statements may be requested by USAC, but regardless are required to be retained for 10 years.  Such statements may be made in electronic format, such as being incorporated as part of the online check-out process.

4. Getting Paid – ECF Reimbursements

USAC is currently developing a new ECF invoicing system that is expected to be ready within 2 weeks of the first funding commitment wave.  As soon as it’s available, I’ll develop a guide and conduct a demo webinar.  Unlike E-rate, we know that detailed vendor invoices will be required to be submitted with the BEAR.

Congratulations, again, everyone!  I’m so proud of our large participation.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell

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

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