Lots and Lots of E-rate FAQs

April 11, 2015

This year I’ve received a record number of applicant questions and I so I’ve put together a list of the most popular ones from the last two weeks.  They’re generally listed in order of the application sections.  In addition, attached are my Category 1 and Category 2 Filing Guides and I encourage you to review them if you’re stuck on a certain screen of your application.  If you have other questions that aren’t answered below, please e-mail me at jtschell@comcast.net.

Multi-Year Contracts:  Although you may have a multi-year contract (and didn’t have to post a new 470 this year), you are still required to submit a Form 471 Funding Request each year to request E-rate funding.  There is no such thing as a multi-year E-rate funding commitment.

RAL Corrections – If you have submitted your Form 471, but realized you need to make corrections, you may do so using your yellow RAL (Receipt Acknowledgment Letter) that you receive in the mail from USAC about 2 weeks after submitting the Form 471.  When submitting your correction, always include a signed and dated copy of page 3 of your RAL together with your Form 471 number, billed entity name, Billed Entity Number (BEN), and your name and contact information (email, fax, and/or phone).  If the corrections you need to make aren’t shown on the RAL documents, print a copy of your Form 471, mark the corrections, and then submit with completed page 3 of the RAL.  You can e-mail the RAL corrections using the Submit a Question feature on the USAC website, or just fax them to USAC at:  (973) 599-6526

Category 1 and Category 2 Requests on the Same Form 471 – It is not possible to file a Form 471 that includes both Category 1 and Category 2 requests on the same application.  However, you can (and should) put all of your funding requests for that Category on the same Form 471.  You can do this by either choosing “Step-by-Step” or “Everything on one page” on the main Funding Request page.

Urban/Rural Status Shows a “?”:  When you complete the Discount Calculations section of the Form 471, there’s a chance that you will receive an error that says, “Discount Calculation Incomplete” and the discount will not calculate properly.  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 selecting the school’s name, then clicking on the small pencil symbol at the bottom of the box to edit the data.  You will be able to manually select 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.

NCES Codes – Listing theNCES codes is optional and most NCES codes are already in the USAC database and will be populated in your application.

State LEA and State School Code IDs – The State LEA code is your PDE AUN number, and the State School Code ID is your PDE building number.  These items are optional, but if you would like to include them, they can be found on the PDE NSLP file (http://e-ratepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Oct-2014-NSLP-Building-Data-Formatted.xlsx) or using the EDNA database (http://www.edna.ed.state.pa.us/Screens/wfSearchEntity.aspx).

Form 471 Connectivity Questions (in the Discount Calculation Section) – Yes, you must complete these questions for every Form 471 you submit, even if you answered them on a previous Form 471.  Also, if you are only applying for voice services, you still must answer the questions.

Internet Upload/Download Speeds – On the Item 21, it asks what the upload and download speeds are.  For voice services, these should be left blank or listed as “0.”  But for actual Internet requests, be careful in how you answer these because the questions are in reverse order.  Typically, Internet speeds are listed a download/upload.  On the Item 21, it asks for upload speed first, then download.

Creating Multiple FRNs on a Single 471 – Many applicants are submitting just a single funding request per application — which is just unnecessary work.  It’s true that Category 1 and Category 2 funding requests must be filed on separate applications, but multiple FRNs for the same Category should be filed on the same application to save yourself a lot of work.  How? When you are on the FRN Main Page, choose either “Step-by-Step” or “Everything on One Page” to create a new funding request in the application. I recommend “Everything on One Page.”

Taxes and Fees – Yes, you mayincrease your contractual amount to include eligible taxes and fees if the service provider has indicated that they will be adding these additional taxes/fees to your monthly invoices.   Be sure to document your math.  These taxes/fees don’t have to be broken out separately on the Item 21 and can just be bundled in with the base monthly rate.

Using the Narrative Section to Explain Cost Allocations – Because most voice funding requests this year contain ineligible services/features, be sure to use the Narrative box in the Key Information Section to explain what features/services you have cost allocated from your request – AND – be sure to include those amounts in the “ineligible” costs on the Item 21.  For example, if you have removed text messaging and data plans from your cellular voice requests, be sure to indicate that in the Narrative box and then list the cost of those ineligibles in the Item 21 section.

If you see a ? next to the Item 21 Button, it likely means that you haven’t completed the Manage Recipients function to show which entities are receiving the service or equipment.  Click on the Manage Recipients button to complete this task, or, if you don’t see that button, click on the + symbol to the very left of that line item.  The Manage Recipients button will appear again.

Be sure to check VOICE in the Key Information Section if the funding request is for cellular, local, long distance, PRIs, Centrex or VOIP services.  These are not considered “Telecommunications” for the purpose of the Form 471 this year.  The system will then know to deduct the 20 discount percentage points from your pre-discount request.

For Internal Connections, be sure to list the total extended cost and not the unit price.  Although the system asks for quantities, it does not ask for unit price and therefore you must do the math offline and then list the total cost.

PEPPM:  If you’re using the PEPPM contract for C2 requests, you should select YES when the form asks if you posted a Form 470.  Then, you must list the PEPPM Form 470 # 245730001240230.  The system will properly show that the entity that filed the Form 470 was the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit.  For complete instructions on how to file PEPPM-related FRNs, see http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121.

Item D on the Certification Page:  List your entire technology budget, less costs associated with E-rate eligible items.  This does not have to be exact.  The intent of this item is ensure you know that you have to spend money on other areas — like training, maintenance, end-user equipment, software, staff, etc — to make effective use of the E-rate eligible services.  Often, entities simply list their entire technology budget amount.

Item F on the Certification Page:  Don’t check this box.  If you do, you’re saying the service provider is paying all or a portion of your non-discounted share — which is a strict no-no.  If you accidentally checked this box and submitted your application, simply submit a RAL correction explaining that this was an error.  PIA will likely contact you to see if this was an error.

Form 471 Print Preview – It’s true; there is no feature in the new Form 471 to click a print preview button and see an entire Form 471.  We know this is a problem, but I don’t see the feature being available this year. The closest thing you can do is the following:

  • When in the Certification Page, click Review Application (at the very bottom) and it will show the four main sections of the form.
  • Click the “+” button, it will expand each section so you can print.  However….
  • The Funding Request Section will only show each FRN and does not automatically expand the underlying data for the entire FRN. To do that, click on the FRN name to see the Key Information, and then at the bottom of that page, click on the “+” button beside the “Products and Services Requested – Item 21″ item to see more details…
  • THEN, click on the “+” button for each line item number to see the recipients of service that you chose for that line item.
  • Only after you’ve expanded all of these sub sections should you hit Print.

If you don’t have a PIN:  You can submit your 471 online even if you don’t have a PIN.  Hit submit, then print out the paper certification and mail it to the SLD by Thursday, April 16.  The SLD will then mail you a PIN about 2 weeks later that you can use to certify all future E-rate applications.

Happy filing!

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator



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