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E-Rate Simplified: A Step-by-Step Overview for Schools

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

There are eight basic steps that schools must cycle through in order to utilize E-Rate. Follow this simple guide to breeze through the E-Rate season.

Step 1: Do Your Homework!

Doing the research and being prepared early will help the process go more smoothly.

- Review application process flow

- Review common E-Rate terms

- Review approved eligible services

- Research different technologies and solutions for your needs.

Step 2: Plan Your Vision of the Future

This is typically in the September- December timeframe. Define your highest priority technology needs and outline a plan of actions before entering the E-Rate bidding stage.

Step 3: Competitive Bidding

Complete and submit your Form 470 so that vendors can start sending you bids and proposals. Prepare a bid evaluation matrix to ensure you are ready to compare vendors. Review helpful hints for your matrix. 

Step 4: Select Your Technology Partner

Based on your bidding matrix, evaluate technology options and solution providers to make the best choice for your school or district. 

Step 5: Apply for Discounts

Finalize the technology and services to implement and file a Form 471 to apply for the funding. 

Step 6: Application Review

It is out of your hands now; the FCC will inform you once your application has been approved. They may have questions regarding your application, so be prepared to reply within 15 days. Once the review process is complete, you will receive a FCDL, Funding Commitment Decision Letter. You will also find this letter in your E-Rate productivity center. Then you can assemble your project teams, and you are ready to go!

Step 7: Ready - Set - Go!

This is the fun part- putting your new technology to work! Turn your vision into a reality by improving experiences for students and faculty. You must file the FCC Form 486 in order to notify them that your services are starting. 

Step 8: Don't Forget About Invoicing

You will probably be excited about your new technology, but make sure to collect your E-Rate funds. There are two options for filing an invoice:

Option #1: Filing FCC Form 472. the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) form, if you have paid the service provider in full for the services and want to be reimbursed for the discount amount.

Option #2: Service providers file FCC Form 474, the Service Provider (SPI) Form, if they have provided discounted bills to their customer and wanted to be reimbursed for the discount amount. 

Congratulations! You now have the funding to increase technology initiatives in your school! It will be exciting to see your students, teachers, and facility experience grow to new heights!

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