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USF Schools & Libraries Program

E-Rate Timetable, Overview, Resource Links

The Schools and Libraries program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly known as "E-Rate," is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access

There are 7 time-sensitive steps schools must complete each year to be eligible to receive E-rate program benefits.


Schools must file during the current fiscal-academic year (2014-15) for telecommunications and Internet access service discounts that will apply to the next fiscal-academic year (2015-16).

Go to: 
Apply Online at USAC

Suggested time line for completion:  For more USAC detail about each step, click the description.
   Before You Begin
Compete this step during September-October of the current fiscal-academic year

The CDC Technology Plan is open through November 30, 2014.

Step 1. Begin with Nebraska Department of Education preliminaries

Technology Planning
through the Nebraska Department of Education Consolidated Data Collection system

E-Rate Validation Report and Internet Safety (CIPA)

Complete this step during October-November of the current fiscal-academic year
Last day to file Form 470 online:  TBD
Step 2. Competitive Bidding  
Form 470: Description of Services Requested and Certification Form
Per mandatory 28-day waiting period between the 470 & 471, service provider review and selection will occur in December-January of the current fiscal-academic year. Step 3. Selecting Service Providers
There is a mandatory 28-day waiting period before schools can review services bids from service providers and select service provider(s). Cost is a primary factor for review/selection.

Complete this step in January-February of the current fiscal-academic year.

The 2015-16 Form 471 filing window opens TBD and closes TBD. The window is open TBD days.

You can use the View 471 Status tool to track the progress of the review of your FCC Form 471. For a detailed description of this tool, refer to the March 22, 2013 SL News Brief.

Step 4. Applying for Discounts  Form 471, Item 21 Attachments
  Services Ordered and Certification Form

The FCC Form 471 must be filed during a specific application window each year. In general, the application filing window opens about six months before the start of the funding year and is open for about two and a half months. All applications received or postmarked before the close of the filing window are considered as having arrived on the same day, and have priority over those submitted after the filing window has closed.

For all certified, in-window applications, FCC rules of priority are observed in processing funding requests:
Priority One - access services are fully funded first.
Priority Two - requests for internal connections and basic maintenance of internal connections with highest discount levels receiving priority.
Step 5. Application Review

Program Integrity Assurance (PIA)
Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL)

If making Priority Two funding requests, Technology Plans must be approved prior to the service start date reported on the Form 486.

The FCC Form 486 must be certified no later than 120 days after the service start date or 120 days after the date of the FCDL, whichever is later. Calculate deadline.

Step 6. Starting Services

Form 486, Receipt of Service Confirmation Form

Consortium members (schools) file FCC Forms 479 with their consortium leader (ESU 2, NNNC, State of Nebraska) to notify the consortium leader of their status under CIPA. The FCC Form 479 is not submitted to USAC. 
After the consortium leader has collected all the FCC Forms 479 from the consortium members, the consortium leader can accurately complete the FCC Form 486, Receipt of Service Confirmation Form. 


FCC rules require USAC to pay universal service support to service providers and not directly to applicants.1  Two invoice methods and program forms exist.

For Applicants, Form 472, the BEAR Form, must be received or postmarked no later than 120 days after the last date to receive service or 120 days after the date of the FCC Form 486 Notification Letter, whichever is later. Calculate Deadline.

Step 7. Invoicing

  • Applicants file FCC Form 472, Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form if they have paid the service provider in full for the services and want to be reimbursed for the discount amount.
  • Service providers file FCC Form 474, Service Provider Invoice (SPI) Form if they have provided discounted bills to their customer and want to be reimbursed for the discount amount.

1 Eligible schools do not receive direct funding from the program. Instead, they receive discounts on the costs of services provided by vendors. The amount of discount each school can receive under the program ranges from 20 to 90 percent and is determined using a matrix designed by FCC, with schools located in rural and low-income areas receiving the highest discounts from the fund. The USF compensates the schools' vendors for the amount of the discount. For additional background, go to the FCC web site.