E-rate Discount Calculation FAQs – Schools

February 24, 2015

~ Includes NSLP, CEP and Template Issues ~

Below are answers to several frequently asked questions I’ve been receiving over the last several weeks related to Discount Calculations, NSLP, CEP and Discount Templates for schools.  I’m working to obtain clarification on a few library discount calculation issues and will send a Library Discount Calculation FAQ as soon as I can.

Discount Calculation Issues:

What has changed in the way discounts are calculated for districts?

– Discounts are now calculated on a district-wide, simple average basis (not a weighted average basis).  Total NSLP eligibility #, divided by total district enrollment = District NSLP % eligibility.  You then take that figure and use the Discount Matrix to determine the district-wide E-rate discount.  Therefore all schools in the district for both C1 and C2 requests will have the exact same discount and it will always come directly from the Matrix.

If service is only going to a single school in our district, should we only list that school in the Block 4?

– No — all school buildings (and admin buildings) in the district must be included in the discount calculations, even if only one school in the district receives a service, or that service is shared among a subset of schools in the district.  To show which schools are actually receiving the service, the Funding Request (Block 5) section of the Form 471 will require you to select the actual school(s) receiving the service using the “Manage Recipients” button.

How can I determine a school’s new rural/urban status?

– Instead of using the county rural/urban status, E-rate now uses the 2010 U.S. Census tracts to determine if a school is rural or urban.  If a majority of schools in a district are considered rural, then the entire district receives the benefit of the rural additive on the Discount Matrix.  It is possible that a single town can have 2 schools — one urban and one rural.  The new Form 471 will automatically determine if your school is rural or urban, but if you’d like to research it yourself, look here:  http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Urban-Rural-Look-Up-Tool.pdf.

What if the Urban/Rural Status says, “Address Invalid” or shows a “?”?

– This most likely means that there’s something slightly wrong with your address in the USAC database and it is having trouble pulling the urban/rural status from the US Census database.  Call CSB and they can help get it corrected in their system — 888-203-8100.  You can override a “?” in the online Form 471 by choosing urban or rural from the drop down box.  But please note that this will not permanently change it in their database, so it’s best to call CSB and get the address corrected permanently.

What will my E-rate discount be for voice services for FY 2015?

– Voice services are subject to a phase down of 20 percentage points per year starting with FY2015. For example, a school district that is eligible for an 80% discount for Category One services will be eligible for a 60% discount on voice services for FY 2015 and a 40% discount on voice services for FY 2016.  This phase down will apply to all costs related to voice services (and dedicated voice circuit capacity), including: local phone service, long distance service, PRIs, POTS, 800 service, Centrex, wireless telephone service such as cellular, and interconnected VoIP.  DID blocks, voice mail and caller ID are no longer eligible, beginning in FY 2015.

NSLP Issues:

Where do I find my District’s enrollment and NSLP data?

– The PDE NSLP File from October 2014 can be found at: http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=743.

Am I required to use this data?

– No.  You may use last year’s NSLP data, more recently available data, or alternative data that may come from an income survey, sibling match, etc.  If you use data that derives a different discount than what is on the PDE data, please be prepared to validate this data with PIA.

How do we determine NSLP eligibility if our school doesn’t participate in NSLP?

– Even if your school doesn’t participate in NSLP or serve lunches, you still must determine the number of students whose families would otherwise qualify for the NSLP.  This can be done through an income survey, from scholarship information, or from another source.  Beginning in FY 2015, survey results can no longer be extrapolated.

What if one of our schools no longer participates in the NSLP program, but still collects the NSLP forms?  Should we include those schools in our discount calculations?

– Yes, these schools must be included in your discount calculation.  You likely will receive a call from PIA asking you to validate the enrollment and NSLP data for these schools because the information cannot be found in the PDE NSLP file.

Should I list all schools and administrative buildings/non-instructional facilities in my Discount Calculations?

– Yes.  ALL buildings must be included in the discount calculation section, not just schools.  This includes separate maintenance garages, administration buildings, food service buildings, data centers, etc.  Be sure to mark these as NIFs on the form or in the Discount Calculation Template.  If you don’t have an entity number for a NIF, call CSB at 888-203-8100 and they will create one for you.

If our district is participating in CEP, should we use the NSLP enrollment or the CEP Direct Cert. Percentage?

– CEP schools should select “CEP” under Alternative Discount, and then skip the NSLP enrollment field.  Instead, they should list the CEP Direct Cert Percentage from the PDE NSLP file in the CEP column.  The online system (or Template) will then automatically apply the 1.6 multiplier and determine the total NSLP eligible figure.

What if our CEP Direct Cert. percentage is less than 40%?

– If your district grouped CEP schools to be able to include a single school(s) that has a Direct Cert Percentage less than 40%, you should use the CEP Group Percentage for your schools. The online system (and Template) will not let you input a CDP less than 40%.

Discount Calculation Template Issues:

Am I required to use the new Block 4 Discount Calculation Template?

– No, but you should!  It is 10 times easier than inputting the data building by building on the Form 471, and then you’ll have the template to use over again next year with new enrollment and NSLP data.  To see examples of how various types of applicants should complete the Templates, go to: http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=754 under the Application Process section.

Where can I find the Billed Entity Number (Column A) and the School Entity Numbers (Column B)?

– The easiest place to find these is on your FY 2014 Form 471.  (Go to: http://www.sl.universalservice.org/menu.asp and click on Display in the Form 471 column.)  Or you can look them up at:  http://www.sl.universalservice.org/Utilities/BilledEntitySearch_Public.asp.

When using the Template, am I required to list the NCES codes and School ID numbers?

– These columns are optional and the template will upload without data in these fields.  In fact, the NCES codes are already in the USAC database, so it makes no sense to enter these again. The School LEA ID and State School ID codes can be found on the PDE NSLP file if you’d like to insert them.

Will the Template work with Excel 2007?

– Although the USAC instructions say it will, it has been my experience that it does not.  If you only have Excel 2007, send me your completed Template, along with your 471 # and Security Code, and I will upload it for you.

What should I do if my Template won’t upload into the Form 471?

– The system will usually tell you what problem is presenting you from uploading.  If you can’t figure it out from that error message, send me your completed Template, along with your 471 # and Security Code and I will upload it for you.

If you have any other questions, please let me know!

– Julie


Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o
717-730-9060 – f


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