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ERate FAQs

E-rate FAQs



What is eligible for E-rate funding?
Services eligible for E-rate discounts include Internet access, data circuit connections, internal connections, and local, long distance, and cellular telephone service.  For more information and a complete list, see the USAC’s Eligible Services List.

What information do I need to fill out E-rate forms?
We’ve collected links to all the codes and numbers you’ll need.

I’m having trouble filing online.  Why does the USAC website keep giving me error messages?
The USAC website is frequently overwhelmed as the volume of traffic increases late in the filing window.  Close the browser window and sign back in.  Internet Explorer is the best browser to use, and you’ll want to make sure Content Advisor and Popup Blockers are turned off. Click here for more tips from the USAC.

I’ve gotten more bids this year than I have in the past.  How do I compare them?
There has been an increase in recent years in companies sending out the same “bids” to multiple libraries.  If the document you receive does not mention your library by name, include a price specifically for your library, or includes services that you did not request, it does not constitute a formal bid.

Price must be the primary consideration during all stages of the evaluation process.  USAC’s sample bid matrix can be used to evaluate bids.

What if I receive no bids?
If you have received no bids for your services, you have several options.  First, memorialize this fact by sending yourself an email and printing it for your E-rate file.  Second, depending on the category of service, you could continue to use your current service provider, as long as you can document that the service is cost effective.  For example, if your library is currently a customer of the only phone service provider in your area and they fail to bid on your Form 470, you can use your current bill as documentation.  In addition, according to Kentucky State Law, it is permissible to invite service providers known to be active in your area to bid on your Form 470. 

Are there special rules about signing contracts?
Yes.  You MUST wait 28 days after the Form 470 is posted on the USAC website to sign a contract.  Signing a contract before the 28-day waiting period is up is one of the most common reasons for funding denials.  This rule was instituted to ensure that the bidding process is open and fair.  See the USAC website for more guidance about contracts.

What if my contract expires between July 1st and June 30th?
If your contract expires in the middle of the E-rate funding year, file two separate funding requests (FRNs): one covering the remainder of the contract and the other for month-to-month service for the remaining months of the funding year.  For E-rate purposes, contracts are not necessary for month-to-month services like phone service.

I’m applying for E-rate for the first time, and I already have a signed contract in place.  Do I need to dissolve the contract?
Not necessarily.  If you can demonstrate that the contract is your most cost-effective option for services, you can consider your current contract as a bid.

Who are the “recipients of service”?
“Public” are the recipients of service for public libraries.

Where do I find my school district’s National School Lunch Program numbers?
Call your local school directly; this will give you the most up-to-date numbers and ensure that you get the number of students eligible, not just the number of students participating in the program (this number will probably be lower). 

An alternative is to look up the numbers on the Kentucky Division of School & Community Nutrition’s NSLP website; look for the link on the right-hand side for “Updated Qualifying Data (Free and Reduced Price)”.  This data is released every October.

What if there are multiple school districts in my service area?
Use the numbers from the district closest to your library.  If your library has multiple branches, enter the numbers from the school district closest to each branch.  These discounts will be averaged, providing all branches with the same discount.

I’m having trouble with the Block 4 worksheets on the Form 471.  Do I need to complete a worksheet for each branch?  What about all those old worksheets the previous director entered, can I just use one of those?
Yes, a worksheet must be completed for each branch.  Old worksheets should be deleted or updated since they won’t have the most current NSLP numbers from your local school district.

How do I find my service provider’s SPIN number?
There is a SPIN search tool on the SLD website.  A list of common service providers and SPINs can be found here.

I’m paying one bill that covers my phone and Internet access. These are different categories of service; do I need to list them separately?
No, that won’t be necessary.  The general rule is to submit one funding request (FRN) per bill.  The discount for this bill can be requested under the Telecommunications service category.

My phone bill covers multiple lines and branches; do I need to separate those out into separate funding requests (FRNs)? 
Basically, each funding request (FRN on the Form 471) corresponds to each bill.  If multiple branches are included on the same bill, that will count as a single FRN. 

I get two separate bills for Internet access for two different branches from the same company.  Do those need to be listed separately or can I combine them into 1 FRN?
If you’re receiving multiple bills for multiple branches, these will be listed as separate FRNs.

Should I include the taxes and fees on my phone bill in my funding request?
Yes, if it is a fee that must be paid in order to receive service (such as the Universal Service fee).  Some elective fees are not eligible for E-rate funding; for example, directory advertising or listing fees must be allocated out of funding requests.  See the Eligible Services List for more information.

What are Item 21 Attachments?
The Item 21 Attachments describe the services you’re requesting in line item detail.  They are completed separately; go to the USAC’s application page or click here to go straight to the online form.  You can also submit Item 21 Attachments by email, fax, and regular mail.  The USAC has several examples of Item 21 Attachments on their website.  Item 21 Attachments MUST be submitted with the Form 471.

Question 25d on the Form 471 asks for “total budgeted amount allocated to resources not eligible for E-rate support”.  What should I put here?
Enter your library’s technology budget in this blank.  The E-rate program requires that the library have sufficient funds to pay the non-discounted portion of E-rate services (this is the certification required in Item 25).  This is USAC’s way of making sure you’ll have the funds needed to cover the non-discounted portion of your bills.