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E-rate Do’s and Don’ts

- November 8, 2017 - 0 Comments

Contributors: Donna Eason

There are many Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind as you complete the process for a successful application for E-rate funding. We’ve created a list of important reminders so you won’t make some of the most common mistakes that many applicants make.

Don’t forget that CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) compliance is required to participate in the E-rate program. Do ensure you have the right security measures in place to certify your compliance.

Do remember: cost must be the heaviest weighted factor in your vendor evaluation, but don’t forget to consider other factors in addition to cost. It may be that the lowest bid doesn’t receive the highest score.

Cost must be the heaviest weighted factor in your vendor evaluation, but don’t forget to consider other factors in addition to cost. It may be that the lowest bid doesn’t receive the highest score.

Don’t count on E-rate to fund everything; you’ll need a robust funding strategy. Consider grants, bonds, and your own budget sources. Identify your technology needs and budget early in the E-rate cycle to help you plan. Do you have bond funding? Remember that you can still use your E-rate funds to help offset the cost burden on taxpayers.

Do remember that a minimum of 28 days is required to hold an open bidding competition, but don’t let that hold you back from posting sooner and making your Form 470 available longer. Your application will be jeopardized only if you don’t post for a minimum of 28 days.

Don’t forget, completed Form 471s must go through the Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) review process before Funding Commitment Decisions Letters (FCDLs) are sent. This process ensures that all applications meet all requirements to receive funding.

Do remember, Category 2 internal connections services can start as early as April 1 prior to the funding year (for FY2018 this would be April 1, 2018). Do remember, this does not include Category 1 or recurring services.

Don’t forget, E-rate funded equipment may not be traded in or disposed of until at least five years after the date of installation has passed. Past the five-year mark, you can trade in your equipment with some stipulations. You will have to deduct the pre-discount amount from the value of the trade-in.

Don’t forget to review the FY2018 Eligible Services List to confirm you’re making appropriate requests.

These Do’s and Don’ts should put you on the right foot for submitting an E-rate application that has integrity and is more likely to get funding. For more information, please visit www.cisco.com/go/erate and read the other blogs in our series starting here. You can also watch our recent webcast with Howe Public Schools to see the amazing opportunities they’re providing to rural students, made possible by E-rate (and other) funding. We’ll be talking more about that in our blog next week, so stay tuned.

How is E-rate helping your school? Tell us your story below. We’d love to hear from you!

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