E-rate Update – November 2023

November 17, 2023

The fall is always a busy time of year for E-rate, but this year is off the charts!  Please review each of these items and let me know if you have any questions.

FCC Releases Major E-rate-Related Initiatives

In the last two weeks, the FCC has issued two NPRMs and a Declaratory Ruling that are proposed to add services and equipment to the E-rate program (School Bus Wi-Fi and Hot Spot Lending) and introduce an entirely pilot program (Cybersecurity Pilot Program).  Be sure to read the summaries of these new initiatives, and let me know if you would like to submit comments to the FCC to help answer some of their questions.  As each one is adopted and more information is known, I’ll send complete details.

School Bus Wi-Fi – http://e-ratepa.org/?p=35144.  Comment deadline extended until November 30, 2023.

Hotspot Lending Program – http://e-ratepa.org/?p=35170.  Comment deadline not yet known.

Cybersecurity Pilot Program – http://e-ratepa.org/?p=35176.  Comment deadline not yet known.  Pilot program will be outside of E-rate, initially.

New Form 472 BEAR Reimbursement Form in EPC – On November 6, USAC moved the Form 472 BEAR from the legacy system into the EPC system.  Previously, the BEAR was a separate module when you logged into EPC (the middle option), but it is now a link from within the EPC E-rate portal.  For those of you familiar with the ECF BEAR, it looks very much the same.  I will send a separate message with a new EPC Form 472 BEAR Filing Guide soon.

Admin Window Open – The E-rate “Administrative Window” is the period before the 471 Application Window opens, during which time schools update their enrollment and NSLP (or CEP%) data in each school’s EPC profile, update their Category 2 enrollment data (if it increased), and libraries update their square footage (if it changed).  The Admin Window is now open and is expected to close the first or second week in January.  Schools are required to update their EPC profiles with their fall 2023 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.  If your school does not participate in NSLP (some nonpublic schools, for example) please go ahead and update your data in EPC now as there is no need for you to wait for the PDE data (last year’s Guide is available to use).

New Functionality in EPC to Cancel Form 470 – For the first time since the E-rate program began, applicants can now cancel a certified Form 470.  The only catch is that the Form 470 can’t be cited on any Form 471, regardless of that 471’s status (meaning incomplete, pending or committed).  To cancel a submitted Form 470 that isn’t yet “attached” to a Form 471:  Locate Form 470 > Related Actions > Cancel this FCC Form 470.  Hurray!

FY 2024 Form 471 Filing Window Dates – The FCC has not yet released the official FY 2024 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 will likely open around the second week in January and close around mid-late March, 2024.

Post Form 470’s or Issue PEPPM Mini-Bids Now! – If you haven’t done so already, please review what Category 1 contracts are expiring, and determine what equipment you will need for FY 2024.  My suggestion is to begin your procurements no later than the first week in December, evaluation your bids in January, take the new contracts to your board in February, and then submit the Form 471 in late February/early March.  The sooner you release these bids, the less stress you will feel in February and March.  Here are recent message to help you with these filings:

PQA Audit Notices Issued – Each year, USAC’s audit team issues notices to 350 lucky entities (nationwide) that they have been selected for a random PQA Audit.  These are smaller than the larger BCAP audits and typically take only a few hours to gather the documentation.  To see what documents are required to be submitted, I’ve posted them here:  http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/PQA-Initial-Audit-Document-List.pdf.  If you receive a PQA audit notice and have questions, please let me know.

Category 2 Budgets – What’s Remaining for Your School or Library – FY 2024 will be the 4th 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 from the first year that you receive Category 2 funding in this C2 cycle.   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 or modify it if enrollment has increased to take advantage of the higher C2 budget.  To see what your remaining C2 budget is for FY 2024 – FY 2025, to 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, then scroll to the far right column to see what’s remaining in your C2 budget.

Unspent C2 Funding from Prior Years? - If you were committed funding in Funding Years 2021, 2022 or 2023 and your expenses were not as high as you anticipated or you didn’t need the funding, you may want to file a Form 500 to cancel or reduce the FRN.  Why?  Because these remaining funds will be put back into your Category 2 budget for the remaining 2 years of this C2 budget cycle.  Please note:  If you don’t use the funding and don’t file the Form 500, the funds aren’t automatically reinstated into your account.  You must take this proactive step to reduce the funding commitment to get the funds back into your C2 budget.

Changing EPC AAs/Adding or Removing Users/Adding or Removing Consultants – If you’re looking for instructions on how to accomplish any of these tasks, please see the updated EPC How To Guide:  http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/EPC-How-To-Guide-as-of-Nov-2023.pdf

Adding Text Option for EPC Log-in Multi-Factor Authentication – When logging into EPC, you are required to perform multi-factor authentication (MFA).  The system’s initial default way to receive your authentication code is via e-mail.  But did you know you can add a text option and have an easier/quicker way to authenticate?  See this guide that explains how to add the text option:  http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/One-Portal-MFA-Set-Up-Guide.pdf.

If you have any questions about any of these items, please let me know!

– Julie

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

Site graciously hosted by the Capital Area IU 15 | Site designed and maintained by Silver Penny Studio