File Now for FY 2012 E-rate Reimbursements
July 17, 2013
~ List of Possible Affected Entities Attached ~
~ Online BEAR Instructions Coming Tomorrow ~
The 2012 Funding Year ended June 30, 2013 for recurring services and so now is the time to submit the Form 472 -- BEAR -- to the SLD for services in which you paid 100% of the bill from July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013 and are due reimbursement of your E-rate funding. How do you know if you need to submit a BEAR? The easy answer is that if you received discounted bills from your vendor, you do not need to submit a BEAR (your E-rate discounts were applied to your bill). If you did not receive discounted bills, then you likely will have to file a Form 472 BEAR to collect your reimbursement. I've attached a list of FRNs whose vendors have NOT invoiced USAC, which likely means these schools or libraries must submit BEARs for those FRNs. Not included in this list are entities that have already filed BEARs for any or all of FY 2012 (and where USAC has authorized disbursement).
The official deadline is October 28, 2013 and even though USAC is going to be flexible with this deadline, you don't want to wait until then because it may take longer to receive your reimbursement due to the rush of BEARs submitted at that time. Now is the very best time to submit the form. I'll send a list in early October of the applicants that still having funding remaining to be collected, so file now and avoid the list! Each year, many applicants are committed funding, but then never go back to seek reimbursement. Don't let them keep your well-deserved money.
A few important Q & A's:
1) Can I complete the BEAR online?
A. Yes! The BEAR Form -- 472 -- can be submitted electronically to the SLD -- if your service provider is accepting Online BEARs and if you have an E-rate PIN. Information regarding the Online BEAR will be sent to the listserve tomorrow. If you cannot file online or choose not to, you can complete the Form 472 online using the PDF format, print it, and then mail it to the SLD (after getting the service provider to counter-sign, of course). The paper BEAR is located at: http://www.universalservice.org/sl/tools/forms.aspx under Form 472. The Online BEAR can be filed at https://www2.sl.universalservice.org/bear/login.aspx.
2) Can I put all of my reimbursement requests on a single BEAR?
A. No, a separate BEAR must be completed for each provider. For example, if you have 2 FRNs that list Comcast, and one FRN that is for AT&T, you can submit both Verizon FRN reimbursement requests on a single BEAR, and submit the AT&T reimbursement request on a separate BEAR.
3) Am I required to have the provider sign the BEAR?
A. Yes and No. You need the service provider's signature on the PAPER BEAR Form before you submit it to the SLD. For the Online BEAR, the completed form will automatically be transmitted to the service provider for their electronic signature and then automatically filed with USAC. No separate signature is needed. To find the fax number of your service provider to have them sign the PAPER BEAR, use the SLD's SPIN search database (http://www.sl.universalservice.org/Forms/SPIN_Contact_Search.asp) and call the number listed.
Also, make sure the service provider signs the last page -- the Service Provider Certification Page -- and not the Applicant Certification Page which looks very similar. Also make certain that the provider includes the date beside their signature; dates are considered a minimum processing standard.
4) I was committed more funding than I actually spent. Can I request reimbursement for the full amount that was originally committed?
A. No. Applicants may only seek reimbursement for the exact amount paid for the service instead of just listing the full funding cap (for example, if you were committed $10,000, but then only spent $6,000, you can only request E-rate reimbursements based on the $6000). Please know that the SLD has increasingly been requesting copies of invoices when they review the BEARs as proof that you are requesting the accurate amount. Don't send the invoices with the BEAR, but know they might be requested.
5) I spent more than what was committed on my funding commitment letter (my cap). What should I list on my BEAR -- the cap or the actual amount spent?
The SLD would like you to complete the BEAR with the actual figures of what you spent for the service, and not just list your funding cap amount. For example, if you spent $10,000, and had a 50% discount, you would list $10,000 in Column 14 and $5,000 in Column 15, even if you were only committed $4,000. The reason is that the SLD would like to show how much applicants are actually spending on services and also so they know that you are not just listing the funding commitment amount (the cap), but have actually added up how much was actually spent in each of the 12 months using the actual vendor bills. Unfortunately, they will only reimburse you up to the amount that you were committed.
6) When will I receive my BEAR reimbursement check?
A. After the SLD has reviewed and approved your BEAR, they will mail to you a BEAR Approval Letter, listing the amount of your check. Your check is mailed to your service provider within 20 calendar days of the date of the approval letter. Service providers are required to mail you a check for the same amount within 20 calendar days of receiving the check from the SLD. And if the past is any indication, the BEAR Approval Letters are mostly being issued within 10-20 days of their receipt at the SLD.
7) What if I receive my BEAR Approval Letter and it lists that $0 was approved?
A. This typically means that there was an error made on the BEAR Form and the applicant must correct the error and resubmit to the SLD. Many years ago, the SLD reached out to the applicant to correct the Form over the phone, but no longer. Now the SLD will "pass zero" the BEAR (meaning they won't fund it), but it doesn't mean the E-rate funding is gone. It simply means that the applicant must resubmit the BEAR with corrected information and typically there is an explanation on the BEAR explaining what was incorrect to help identify the error.
8) What if I actually received a slightly different service than what was originally listed on my Item 21 attachments?
A. The SLD has increased scrutiny of the BEARs to make sure that reimbursement requests are for exactly what services were approved for on the FCDLs and Item 21 attachments. If you changed services during the 2012-2013 funding year from what you originally listed on your Item 21 attachments, you should first seek a "correcting service substitution request" from the SLD. The instructions for submitting a service substitution can be found at:
9) What is the deadline to submit the BEAR for non-recurring services?
A. For non-recurring services (mostly priority 2), the deadline to submit the BEAR is 120 days after the last date to receive service (October 28), making the deadline January 28, 2014. (The exception to this is if you received your funding commitment letter on or after March 1, 2013... in which case you have an extra year to receive the service/equipment.) Again, if you have received the equipment, file your Form 486, and then promptly file your BEAR to seek reimbursement if your invoice was not discounted by the service provider. Don't wait until January 2014 to seek reimbursement.
10) What should I do if I didn't use the service?
A. File a Form 500 and cancel the FRN. The easiest version to use is available at: http://www.e-ratecentral.com/formsRack/app/Form500.asp.
If you have any questions about the FY 2012 Invoice Deadlines or completing the BEAR, please contact me at email@example.com.
Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 - o
717-730-9060 - f