Let’s Begin E-rate Funding Year 2023!

November 8, 2022

I’m so excited to announce the beginning of the FY 2023 E-rate application process!   Below is a summary of the changes you can expect for FY 2023, important reminders, and a helpful “what to do by what date” chart at the bottom.

1)  FY 2023 Form 471 Filing Window Dates

– The FCC has not yet released the official FY 2023 Eligible Services List (ESL) which means that USAC cannot yet announce the official Form 471 Filing Window dates.  However, they indicated recently that they expect the window dates to be very similar to last year, which means it would likely open around the second week in January and close around March 21, 2023.  For a suggested FY 2023 bidding/filing timeline, see the chart at the bottom of this message.

2)   Helpful Guide to Understanding Form 470 Options

– Last year, the FCC modified the drop-down options to be descriptive options with progressive disclosures for Category 1 (meaning the form takes you to additional levels of questions, depending on the options you select).  To make the options a little more understandable, I’ve created this helpful guide that contains screenshots of the Form 470 with plain language annotations: http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Guide-to-New-Form-470-Options1.pdf.

3)    Cannot Begin PEPPM Mini-Bids Until January

– If you intend to use the PEPPM Mini-bid system as the procurement vehicle for your FY 2023 Category 2 equipment purchases, note that you cannot release the PEPPM mini-bid to vendors until at least January 2, 2023.  The reason is that the current PEPPM contract expires at the end of 2022 and the next contract will not become available for use until January 2, 2023.  Thus, no mini-bids can be issued to (what will be) the newly awarded vendors until at least that date.  The Form 471 filing deadline is expected to be mid-March, which means that, assuming your PEPPM procurement is conducted in early January, your C2 contracts will likely have to be approved at your February board meetings.

4)   Updating Entity Profiles in the “Administrative Window”

– The “Administrative Window” is the period before the 471 application window, during which time schools update their enrollment and NSLP (or CEP%) data in each school’s EPC profile.  The Admin Window is now open and is expected to close the first week in January.  For the previous two years, schools were not required to update this data due to the pandemic; however, for FY 2023, schools are required to update their EPC profiles with their fall 2022 data.   In mid-December I will send to the listserve a spreadsheet from PDE that provides the enrollment, NSLP (or CEP%) data along with a guide that will walk you through the process for updating each school’s EPC profile.

5)   Category 2 Budgets – What’s Remaining for Your School or Library

– FY 2023 will be the 3rd year of the current 5-year Category 2 budget which spans FY 2021 – FY 2025.   C2 budgets are calculated based on the C2 multiplier ($167/student for schools and $4.50/sq ft for libraries – or a minimum of $25,000/building) and the Category 2 enrollment or library square footage that’s currently in EPC.  The school enrollment or library square footage figure used for C2 budgets can be different from the enrollment used for discount calculations!  Schools can use the same C2 enrollment for the entire budget cycle or modify it if enrollment has increased to take advantage of the higher C2 budget (see #6).  To see what your remaining C2 budget is for FY 2023 – FY 2025 (as of 11/8/2022), see:  http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Remaining-C2-Budgets-as-of-Nov-8-2022.xlsx.  If you update your C2 enrollment in EPC, the C2 budget will change and the results can be found on USAC’s C2 Budget Data Tool at: https://opendata.usac.org/E-rate/E-Rate-C2-Budget-Tool-FY2021-/8z69-hkn7.  Simply use the filter on the right side of the page.

6)  Updating Category 2 Enrollment Data/Library Square Footage in EPC

– I encourage everyone to wait until the PDE enrollment data is released mid-December before deciding whether to update your C2 enrollment budget and requesting a C2 budget recalculation with USAC.  At that time, I’ll send out a guide that explains where in EPC to update this data (it’s different than the discount data profile pages) and how to request a budget recalculations.  But if you are a library with new square footage, or you’re a school that is anxious to get started or know that your data will not be included on the PDE dataset, the guide to updating this data can be found here:  http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/5-2-2-Category-2-Replacement-Budget-Requests-2023-NEW1.pdf.

7)  Unsure Whether You Need to Rebid Category 1 Services This Year?

– In order to remind you of the status of your current Category 1 contracts (telecom and Internet), I will be sending to the listserve a list of all FY 2022 C1 FRNs, and the expiration dates of those contracts.  In the spreadsheet there will be an additional column – “Julie’s Rebidding Status Notes” – explaining whether I think the service must be rebid for FY 2023.

8)  Extending an Existing Contract?
– If your original contract includes (finite, not open-ended) voluntary extensions and you wish to exercise one of those extensions for FY 2023, be certain to notify the vendor in writing of that decision before the Form 471 is filed.  USAC will ask for a copy of that written notification during PIA review, so be sure to retain evidence of that notification.

9)  E-rate RFP/Form 470 Narrative Guide Released

– To assist applicants with preparing their E-rate Request for Proposals (RFPs), I’ve created the RFP & Form 470 Narrative Guide that contains the following information related to both Category 1 and Category 2 service/equipment requests:

  • RFP Basics
  • RFP Outlines of what information should be included in an RFP and also what information should be requested from vendors in their bid responses.
  • Sample Vendor Response Templates
  • Reminders of additional bidding requirements when seeking various fiber services
  • Sample Form 470 Narrative Language for applicants that are not issuing RFPs with their Form 470’s


10)  Form 470 Bidding Exemption for Commercially-Available Internet – CABIO

– For small schools and libraries, don’t forget about the Form 470 bidding exemption if you’re purchasing a “commercially-available Internet package.”  This option is mostly geared to entities that are using cable modem, FIOS or DSL Internet services.  To use the CABIO option and skip for Form 470 bidding requirement, it must meet all of the following conditions:

  • Vendor package costs $3600/year or less (pre-discount), including taxes and modem rental fees but excluding ineligible services such as tv or voice services.  Cost must be based per building and cannot be averaged across multiple buildings.
  • Minimum speed must be 100 mbps downstream and 10 mbps upstream
  • “Commercially Available” typically means you can look on a vendor’s website and see the bundled Internet package that is generally available to the public.
  • If CABIO applies, and you’re not signing a contract, applicants can proceed directly to the Form 471 filing and when it asks if a Form 470 was posted, select NO and then indicate that you’re using the CABIO option.
  • If CABIO applies, and you’re signing a multi-year contract, applicants should first create a Contract Record in EPC (indicating that no 470 was posted), and then file the Form 471.

11)  Funding Year 2023 Suggested Timeline: 

– If you haven’t yet done so, now is the time to file Form 470s for expiring or new Category 1 services, and Form 470s (or PEPPM mini-bids) for Category 2 purchases that you will need for FY 2022 (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023).

Step: Timeline:
Post Form 470 in EPC to competitively bid all new/expiring contracts (unless using the PEPPM mini-bid option for C2) Now – early December (by Thanksgiving, if possible!)
Update enrollment/NSLP data in school EPC profiles Now – early January (hint: wait for PDE data in mid-Dec)
Conduct bid evaluation Early January
Obtain school board approval January or February board meeting (no later)
Sign vendor contracts By End of February
Create Contract Records in EPC/upload signed contracts Late February/Early March
Submit Form 471 February/early March
Earliest applicants can purchase C2 equipment April 1, 2023
Funding Commitment Letters (FCDLs) issued End of April – Sept 1 (goal)
File Form 486 Upon receipt of FCDLs
Earliest that FY 2023 BEARs or SPIs can be submitted to USAC July 1, 2023

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

– Julie

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

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