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E-rate 2017 Is Officially Underway

By Jeff Jennings in · Resources · February 7, 2017

The 2017 E-rate season is finally upon us! In this post, I'll tell you everything you need to know to get you started. If you have other questions, please feel free to tweet me your questions and I'll try to answer.

The USAC (Universal Service Administrative Company) has announced the dates of the Form 471 application window for the 2017 E-rate year. If you are looking to upgrade your Wi-Fi connection using E-rate funds, you will want to add some of these dates to your calendar. 

Are you curious about how much you could receive? We've got a handy calculator for you.


2017 Form 471 Filing Window

Open: February 27 at noon EST

Close: May 11 at 11:59pm EDT

Last Date to file Form 470: April 13, 11:59:59 pm EST

 Other dates related to the filing window:

  • February 26 is the deadline to make edits to site entity information stored in EPC.

The Forms

Form 471 Submission

The Form 471 filing window is scheduled to be open for 73 days. The start date of February 27, 2017, is the latest that the window has ever opened; however, USAC has scheduled the window to be two weeks shorter than last year’s duration (the longest in the history of the program).

Form 470 Submission

Form 470s should be posted no later than April 13, 2017. The deadline to seek bids via the Form 470 process is tied closely to the Form 471 filing window. Applicants are required to seek bids and nust wait a minimum of 28-days prior to awarding a contract. To meet the minimum date requirement and still submit a Form 471 by May 11, 2017, this requires an April 13, 2017, filing deadline for Form 470s.

Updating Site Profile

Applicants will have until February 26, 2017, to update their site entity profile information stored in EPC. USAC has unlocked the site information and applicants are encouraged to review the list of sites and related information available in EPC. This profile data will be locked at the beginning of the Form 471 filing window in order to allow library systems and consortia the opportunity to submit their funding requests at the same time as other applicants. 

Issues to be Aware of

In announcing the filing window, USAC acknowledged the EPC challenges that stakeholders faced in FY2016 and indicated it was looking forward to making FY2017 and beyond a simpler, faster and more efficient experience. USAC specifically pointed out that:

They anticipate a single filing window for 2017 and better prioritization of application processing so funding decisions are provided in a timelier manner.
Applicants will recognize the flow of the online application process, and further enhancements will be available including the "Copy My FRN" feature along with the templates for uploads of large entries. This will assist all applicants.
Along with continued enhanced stakeholder education and outreach, the formation of a stakeholder innovation group who will provide guidance and feedback on the design of a new applicant portal.
  • They anticipate a single filing window for 2017 and better prioritization of application processing so funding decisions are provided in a timelier manner.
  • Applicants will recognize the flow of the online application process, and further enhancements will be available including the "Copy My FRN" feature along with the templates for uploads of large entries. This will assist all applicants.
  • Along with continued enhanced stakeholder education and outreach, the formation of a stakeholder innovation group who will provide guidance and feedback on the design of a new applicant portal.

USAC also expressed their gratitude to the stakeholders for their continued cooperation, patience and understanding.

If you still have questions, we're here to help. Give us me a shout on Twitter, or click here to setup a 1:1 E-rate consultation. 
  
On February 1st, 2017 USAC announced that there is an additional $800 million available in funding for the 2017 E-rate year. This brings the total funds to $7.99 billion! Don't miss out on upgrading your Wi-Fi with Category 2 funding for FY2017.

Jeff Jennings (@jeffngail)

Jeff Jennings is the Director of K12 programs at Aerohive. He's been involved with E-rate since its inception (1996). Since 1996, he's worked with all aspects of the program. This includes the school administration side, as a consultant for schools and libraries, and now with Aerohive.