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E-rate Resource Center

Getting Started

Getting Started

First, determine how much E-rate funding your school is eligible. You will need to be able to answer 3 questions:

  1. What is my district’s/school’s total student enrollment?
  2. What percentage of students are eligible for the NSLP (National Students Lunch Program)?
  3. What is my Urban/Rural classification?

Next, plug the answers to questions 1-3 above into the Xirrus online E-rate calculator to determine your E-rate budget: https://www.xirrus.com/e-rate/calculate-funds/.

Note that E-rate provides two options to pay for the technology: 1) Wi-Fi as a Purchase, where you own and operate the equipment; and 2) Wi-Fi as a Service, where a service provider manages the equipment. You will need to select one or the other option in the E-rate calculator.

Next determine the scope of your project:

  • Review your school’s technology needs for coming school year and beyond.
  • For assistance with this process, contact a Xirrus E-rate specialist at: erate@xirrus.com

Finally, ensure you have an account in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC):

  • EPC (commonly referred to as ‘Epic’) is on online portal used to manage the overall E-rate application process and to submit questions. If you do not already have an account, contact USAC’s Client Service Bureau at 888-203-8100. You will need your Billed Entity Number (BEN) to get set up with access. The Client Service Bureau can help you with this too if you do not have one. For more information on EPC: http://www.usac.org/sl/tools/e-rate-productivity-center/default.aspx
  • Bookmark the EPC log in page: https://portal.usac.org.
Competitive Bidding

Competitive Bidding

To initiate the E-rate process with USAC, start by filing Form 470. This lets vendors know that you are applying for E-rate and provides the opportunity for them to place competitive bids. You may choose to include an RFP (Request for Proposal) with the 470 that provides greater level of detail about your requirements.

Resources:

Recommendations:

  • Follow instructionsclosely to ensure the form is filled out accurately to avoid processing delays
  • In section 10 of the 470, you will need to provide the equipment and services information determined in Step 1.
  • Include an RFP with your 470 application if you are submitting one
  • Ensure sufficient time is allocated during the 28 days for walk throughs if requested, RFP response review, and bid evaluation
Selecting Service Providers & Applying Discounts

Selecting Service Providers

After filing your 470, vendors have 28 days to respond with a bid. You then review the bids, select the winning vendor, and sign the appropriate contracts. Expect multiple bids and use a scoring matrix to evaluate them (see link to example below).

Resources:

Recommendations:

  • Ensure sufficient time is allocated during the 28 days for walk throughs if requested, RFP response review, and bid evaluation

Applying Discounts

When the E-rate filing window opens up, typically in January of the funding year, file Form 471 which requests the E-rate discounts on the contracted purchases and calls out the winning bidder. The filing window is typically open for about 3 months until late March or April.

Resources:

Recommendations:

  • Follow instructions closely to ensure the form is filled out accurately to avoid processing delays
Application Review

Application Review

In this step, the 471 applications are reviewed by USAC in what is called the Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) process. The application is checked for accuracy and completeness and you may be issued additional questions which you must respond to in 15 days or less. At the end of the PIA process, a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) is sent to all parties confirming USAC’s funding decisions.

Resources:

Recommendations:

  • There are 15 days to respond to questions but you can ask for a 1 week extension. Plan to do so if you need additional time.
  • Be readily available during this time period to spend time on responding
  • Communicate everything by email so you have a record
Starting Services & Invoicing

Starting Services

File Form 486 to “turn on funding” and start your project. After receipt, a notification letter is sent to all parties.

Resources:

Recommendations:

  • You may be able to file your 486 early. Many schools do so right afterreceipt of the FCDL since it will need to be approved before any payment can be issued.

Invoicing

After your 486 is approved, you or your service provider can begin invoicing for funding. There are two options:

  • Form 472 BEAR (Billed Entity Application Reimbursement): The school pays the vendor in full, then is reimbursed by USAC
    • In this case, the project can start as soon as April 1
  • Form 474 SPI (Service Provider Invoice): The vendor invoices the school and USAC
    • In this case, the project cannot start until July 1

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