Top 5 E-Rate FY2015 Pitfalls (and how to avoid them)
01-15-2015 11:49 PM
Now that the Form 471 Application Window is open, schools and libraries across the United States will begin to file their applications for E-Rate FY2015 Funding. In the last six months, the FCC has adopted (2) orders, which reshaped and changed the E-Rate program; the E-Rate Modernization Order and the Second Modernization Order. The Orders have raised the funding cap, added and eliminated Category 1 and Category 2 services, modified discount and funding structures, as well as streamlined the application processes.
As you prepare your own application, watch out for these (5) pitfalls:
#1 Missing Deadlines
Nearly every step of the E-Rate process has a specific window of time; from the 28-day competitive bidding window to the application window. Failing to adhere to the strict timeframes and deadlines can result in denial of funding.
#2 Wrong Discounts
With the new discount methodology, it’s vital to remember that applicants need to use district-wide numbers to calculate their E-Rate discounts. Providing the wrong discounts can delay a positive funding commitment decision letter and may even result in loss of funding.
#3 Competitive Bidding Violations
Selecting the right service provider through an open and fair competitive bidding is a vital part of the E-Rate program. Competitive bidding violations are often cited as reasons for funding denials and commitment adjustments. It is critical for the applicant to understand and follow all rules regarding the competitive bidding process.
#4 Ignoring USAC Communications
USAC mails out a number of letters with important information throughout the E-Rate process. In the event that your application is missing information, USAC will contact you based on your preferred mode of contact. It is crucial to read through all of the information in a timely manner and respond appropriately.
#5 Not applying for Category 2 Funds
With an increased funding cap of $3.9B and a target of $1B in funding for Category Two Services, there will be more money available in FY2015 than any previous year. On top of that, just a couple of weeks ago USAC notified the FCC that there was a projected $1.575 Billion available to rollover. These carryover funds are used to meet demand, when that demand has exceeded the funding cap. With the influx of all this new funding, FY2015 will be a good year to file for Internal Connections.