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Navigating the E-rate Program: Forms, Filling Cycles & Rules

Participating in your first E-rate season can be overwhelming. It is important to understand eligibility requirements of the program since the forms and terminology can become confusing. To better understand the ins and outs of the E-rate program, watch Episode 2 of the SonicWall E-rate video series below.

Episode 2: Navigating the E-rate Program

On the second episode of the E-rate Fear Less series, Komplement CEO Holly Davis highlights key elements of the E-rate program to help you navigate the process. You will learn about the filling cycle, ESL, 470 and 471 forms, and rules of the program.

Before you get started, it’s important to remember some key dates. First, the E-rate program operates on a fiscal year (FY) calendar. This year, FY2020 is July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. From here, there are two primary dates to remember:

  • 470 Filing: July 1, 2019 (RFP Posting)
  • 471 Filing: January 11, 2020-March 22, 2020

Applicant Steps & Resources

Prep: Before You Begin
Step 1: Competitive Bidding
Step 2: Selecting Service Providers
Step 3: Applying for Discounts
Step 4: Application Review
Step 5: Starting Services
Step 6: Invoicing 

Resources provided by USAC

Each year, before the FCC Form 471 application filing window opens, the FCC releases Eligible Services List (ESL) for the upcoming funding year (it is typically released between September and November).

The ESL contains a description of the products and services that will be eligible for discounts, along with additional helpful information such as eligibility conditions for each category of service for each specified funding year.

Be sure to review the list before you post a form 470 request for services to properly align your products and service needs.

SonicWall and E-rate

Through its global channel of more than 23,000 technology partners, SonicWall is actively involved in helping K-12 education organizations cost-effectively obtain and deploy network security solutions. SonicWall provides a broad array of E-rate-eligible products and services, including firewalls and turnkey Security-as-a-Service solutions.

SonicWall can discuss its products and services prior to the posting of a school/library Form 470, which begins the competitive bidding process. Once Form 470 is filed, SonicWall and its partners are restricted to rules and regulations of the program and are respondents to the bidding.

If you are utilizing E-rate funding to assist you in buying your networking and cyber security solutions, SonicWall can help. Our team of E-rate funding experts ensure your SonicWall solution aligns with the rules and regulations of the E-rate program. SonicWall provides services in the following areas:

  • Managed Internal Broadband Services
  • Internal Connections
  • Basic Maintenance for Internal Connections

SonicWall integrated solutions meet the needs of school districts at the highest efficacy and at price points that fit within K-12 budget constraints. SonicWall helps reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for these under-funded organizations.

If you are an eligible K-12 organization, please contact your preferred SonicWall reseller for information on E-rate benefits and discounts, or visit the SonicWall E-rate page for information, tools and guidance.

What is E-rate?

To help offset funding and staffing shortages, the U.S. Department of Education and the FCC launched the E-rate program, which helps make telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools, campuses, districts and libraries.

“Eligible schools and libraries may receive discounts on telecommunications, telecommunications services and internet access, as well as internal connections, managed internal broadband services and basic maintenance of internal connections,” explains the FCC website. “Discounts range from 20 to 90 percent, with higher discounts for higher poverty and rural schools and libraries. Recipients must pay some portion of the service costs.”

The E-rate program is operated by Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), which has a core focus of providing underfunded verticals the access to affordable technology and security services. This includes schools, libraries, rural healthcare organizations and more.

USAC provides a yearly Eligible Services List (ESL), which outlines which types of products and services can be procured via E-rate program discounts.

E-rate Episode Video Series for K-12 School Districts

The E-rate ‘Fear Less’ Solution

The E-rate program is critical for K-12 organizations that lack the funding to procure appropriate technology, such as networking and cyber security solutions (e.g., firewalls, wireless network security, etc.). But understanding the program — as well as confirming your E-rate eligibility — can be daunting.

Episode 3: The E-rate Fear Less Solution

On the third episode of the E-rate Fear Less series, Komplement CEO Holly Davis discusses school eligibility, discounts levels and the competitive bidding process.

E-rate discounts are based on the category of service requested, level of poverty, urban/rural status of the population served and the level of participation of students in the Nation School Lunch Program (NSLP).

  • School districts derive their discount, for purposes of determining their level of poverty, from the total percentage of students eligible for the NSLP in the school district.
  • Libraries derive their discount, for purposes of determining their level of poverty, from the NSLP eligibility percentage of the public-school district in which the main branch of the library is located.
  • Rural discount eligibility is determined at the school district or library system level. If more than 50 percent of the schools in a school district or libraries in a library system are considered rural, the district or system is eligible for the rural discount. Note: Non-instructional facilities (NIFs) are not included in this percentage calculation.

Once eligibility is confirmed, it is very important to understand that the government requires a fair and competitive bidding process. Please contact a SonicWall E-rate expert to help guide your organization through the rules and guidelines of the E-rate process.

E-rate technology discounts with SonicWall

Applicant Steps & Resources

Prep: Before You Begin
Step 1: Competitive Bidding
Step 2: Selecting Service Providers
Step 3: Applying for Discounts
Step 4: Application Review
Step 5: Starting Services
Step 6: Invoicing

Resources provided by USAC

SonicWall network and cyber security solutions meet the needs of school districts at the highest efficacy — all at price points that fit within K12 budgets.

If you are utilizing E-rate funding to assist you in buying your networking and cyber security solutions, SonicWall can help. Our team of E-rate funding experts ensure your SonicWall solution aligns with the rules and regulations of the E-rate program. SonicWall provides services in the following areas:

  • Managed Internal Broadband Services
  • Internal Connections
  • Basic Maintenance for Internal Connections

With the most comprehensive channel program in the industry, combined with additional E-rate discounts, SonicWall and its partners are best positioned to meet the needs of K12 customers and help them take full advantage of the funding E-rate provides for securing their networks.

If you are an eligible K12 organization, please contact your preferred SonicWall reseller for information on E-rate benefits and discounts, or visit the SonicWall E-rate page for information, tools and guidance.

E-rate Episode Video Series for K-12 School Districts


Know the E-rate Terminology

The E-rate program is replete of acronyms, form numbers and other unique nomenclature. Learn the key terms to successfully guide your K12 organization through the E-rate process.

VIEW THE GLOSSARY

What is E-rate?

To help offset funding and staffing shortages, the U.S. Department of Education and the FCC launched the E-rate program, which helps make telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools, campuses, districts and libraries.

The E-rate program is operated by Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), which has a core focus of providing underfunded verticals the access to affordable technology and security services. This includes schools, libraries, rural healthcare organizations and more.

USAC provides a yearly Eligible Services List (ESL), which outlines which types of products and services can be procured via E-rate program discounts.