February E-rate and Other Updates

February 21, 2024

Attached: FY 2022 BEARs Due Soon

Good morning, E-raters!  Here’s a February E-rate update, reminders of what you should be doing now, and a few other timely topics.

Time Running Out to Post 470s – If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to post any last-minute Category 2 Form 470s or PEPPM mini-bids for new equipment, or Category 1 Form 470’s for services needing a new contract or month-to-month services (MTM must be filed annually).  The only reasons you would not have to file a Form 470 this year are if you are:  1) Using the CABIO bidding exemption for internet, 2)  Using the PEPPM mini-bid for equipment, or 3) In a multi-year contract that expires on or after 6/30/2025.  The very last day that you can post a 470 is February 28, but don’t wait until the final day because this only leaves the final day of the Form 471 window – March 27 — to evaluate your bids, obtain local board approvals, sign contracts, create the contract record, and complete the 471.  Please don’t wait another minute to file your Form 470!

Resources for School Bus Wi-Fi Bidding and Form 471 Filing:  If you will be seeking E-rate funding for school bus Wi-Fi equipment or services for FY 2024, see http://e-ratepa.org/?p=35259 for an RFP template, Form 470 screenshots and a bid evaluation template.  In addition, Form 471 helpful instructions for school bus Wi-Fi FRNs are available beginning on page 130 of the Form 471 Filing Guide.  Don’t forget, bidding is required, and all related FRNs must be filed on a separate Category 1 Form 471.

Manufacturer Eligibility Percentages (particularly firewall eligibility) – Several manufacturers provide documents or search engines that provide E-rate eligibility percentages for their products and I’ve provided links to those resources below.  These are especially helpful when applying for firewall equipment.  Currently only basic firewall appliances are eligible for FY 2024 (none of the advanced features like anti-spam, anti-virus, etc.) and some manufacturers bundle advanced features with their firewalls instead of pricing them separately.  In these cases, the vendor should provide you with a % E-rate eligibility for the specific bundle you’re seeking.

Deadline Approaching to File FY 2022 BEARs if You Received an Extension:  There are several entities that have FY 2022 funding requests with quickly approaching BEAR deadlines (many as early as Feb. 27!).  Are you on the attached list?  If so, determine if you purchased the equipment or services by the required FY 2022 deadlines, and paid your vendor in full.  If so, then file the BEAR to seek reimbursement by the deadline shown in Column I.  If you received the equipment or services but only paid the vendor for the non-discounted portion, please remind your vendor that they should submit their SPI to seek reimbursement by the deadline.  If it’s a Category 2 FRN and you didn’t utilize the full funding commitment, be sure to file a Form 500 to reduce your commitment which will automatically reinstate those funds into your Category 2 budget!

New BEAR System:  On November 6, USAC moved the Form 472 BEAR from the legacy system into the EPC system, with a much-improved BEAR!  A Guide to the new Form 472 BEAR Invoicing System is available at:  http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Form-472-BEAR-Filing-Guide-New-BEAR.pdf.  To access the EPC Invoicing System, log into EPC and select “EPC E-rate Invoicing” from the shortcuts menu in the top right corner of your Landing Page.  If you don’t see this link, it means that your EPC Account Administrator must change your User Permissions in their EPC portal (see Slide 11 for instructions on changing User Permissions).  Hint:  the new BEAR allows (not requires) you to upload a copy of the relevant vendor invoice and I encourage you to do so for Category 2 funding requests.


Status of FCC’s Cybersecurity Pilot:  The FCC is currently reviewing the initial public comments submitted in response to the Cybersecurity Pilot NPRM.  Reply comments are due by February 27, 2024 and within the next 3 months we expect the Commission will issue an Order with the final program rules and the dates for the 60-day Pilot Application Window.  Applications from interested schools and libraries will be submitted on the new Form 484.  Within 90 days following the Form 484 deadline, the FCC will review all applications and select Pilot Participants.  If you are interested in applying to become one of the pilot participants, be sure to read the NPRM as it lays out what the program is likely to mirror, including what prerequisites they’ll be expecting (for example, is the applicant currently taking advantage of all available free resources).  Form 484 applications will likely be submitted in the EPC portal, but for a sneak peek at what data elements will be collected on the new form, see:  https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=138402800.  For a general overview of the new Cybersecurity Pilot, see http://e-ratepa.org/?p=35176.

Community Facilities Grant for Anchor Institutions:  The PA Broadband Authority (PBDA) has recently released guidelines and opened the application for an exciting new grant - The Multi-Purpose Community Facilities Program - geared specifically to help anchor institutions (schools, libraries, etc.) and local governments construct, purchase or improve facilities that are or will be open to the public and will directly enable work, education, and health monitoring.  Grant guidelines, FAQs, a recorded webinar, and a link to the application portal are available at https://dced.pa.gov/programs/covid-19-arpa-pa-multi-purpose-community-facilities-program/.  Applications are being accepted January 22, 2024 to April 20, 2024.  If you have questions, please direct them to  pbda_capitalprojectsfund@pa.gov.

Digital Connectivity Technology Projects Grant:  In the coming months, the PA Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) will release grant guidelines and open its application period for a $20 million Digital Connectivity Technology Projects (Devices Program), a competitive grant program that is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund (funded through U.S. Treasury). The Program will provide laptops and/or tablets to support digital literacy efforts and enable users to fully participate in work, school, and health monitoring activities. Eligible applicants for the Devices Program include public-facing institutions such as schools, libraries, municipalities, workforce training organizations, non-profit organizations, and other community anchor institutions that are equipped to distribute devices to members of the public through short-term loan programs, or to be made available for use in public facilities.  PBDA is seeking feedback on several items where the U.S. Treasury has provided them with flexibility in program design.  Please take a few minutes to complete a brief form to offer your input on these important topics related to the Devices program.  Please note that more details will be released through program guidelines in the coming months.  Submit input by Friday, March 1 at:  CPF Devices Program – public input form.

Coming soon:  FY 2024 Application Filing Window resources and reminders.  If you have any questions, please let me know!

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell

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

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