from Technology & Learning
A guide to navigating the 2008 program year.
In early fall, most E-rate applicants face the challenge of managing multiple program years. Schools and libraries are finalizing reimbursements for the 2006 program year, starting services or receiving goods for the 2007 program year, and planning for submission for the 2008 E-rate program year.
Below are tips on how to successfully navigate this time period in order to receive the full benefit of E-rate funding.
Submitting FY2006 payment forms
The deadline for applicants to submit reimbursement ("BEAR") forms for the 2006 program year is October 28, 2007. Note that online prepared forms and paper submissions require service-provider authorization prior to submitting to the Schools and Library Division for payment. Early submission of reimbursement forms helps avoid delays during the service-provider review process and allows extra time to resubmit a form if necessary.
Beginning services for program year 2007
Donâ€™t forget to submit your FCC Form 486 to notify the SLD that services have started for funding year 2007. For recurring services such as telephone service or Internet access, the service start date is typically July 1 of the relevant funding year. The FCC Form 486 must be filed within 120 days of the start of services or 120 days after the date of a funding commitment letter, whichever is later.
In addition to notifying the SLD that the service has started, CIPA and technology-plan certifications are also made on Form 486. Failure to submit this form on time can delay invoice approvals and possibly result in a reduced funding commitment. Invoice reimbursement forms will not be authorized for payment without an approved Form 486 on file for each funding request.
Planning for program year 2008
Schools and libraries applying for E-rate funding must have a written, draft technology plan prior to submitting a Form 470 to seek services for 2008. For help developing an effective technology plan, see www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te300.htm.
After you have completed your technology plan, it should be submitted for approval to a USAC-certified technology-plan endorser. It must be prepared before you start the E-rate competitive bidding process, and it must be approved before you begin receiving your E-rate discounted services.
An E-rate tool such as Funds for Learningâ€™s E-rate Manager can help you manage your E-rate application.
Cathy Cruzan is vice president of Client Operations for Funds for Learning.