The Erate Form 471 is the place where the school finally gets to make the request for services and equipment. As a reminder, the following steps need to be completed before selecting the service provider (s) and submitting Form 471 (s). These include:
See our blog for more detailed articles on this process.
Make sure the school has an entity number and an updated student count in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC). Registration in the EPC is required and is a multi-step process.
After the Form 470 has been posted in the EPC for at least 28 days you can start to closely review your bids and their scores. It’s decision time and hopefully, you have several great service providers to choose from. The selection itself is fairly simple. The highest-scoring bidder wins the contract. The score is based on your own criteria that is used to score every bid received.
Communicate with the service provider to obtain a contract for signature after the 28-day mandatory waiting period. The contract will need to be uploaded into the EPC and referenced in the Form 471.
That’s a lot of information. Take a deep belly breath!
When Is The Window?
Erate 471 window typically opens in late December to early January and closes mid-March. This is a short time frame to do a lot of work. Pace yourself for the multiple steps, rules and procedures.
An important distinction is that separate Form 471’s are required for Category 1 and Category 2. What do categories have to do with this? Well, I’m glad you asked!
What Are The Categories?
Category 1 is for Internet services. This can be delivered via coax, fiber, DSL or several other transmission methods. There is no budget or ceiling for Internet services.
Category 2 This is for equipment, and ongoing maintenance services of Erate eligible equipment. There is a specific budget for this category. As of this writing, schools receive $167 per student or $25,000, whichever is higher, over a five-year period to spend on equipment and maintenance. For example, if a school has 200 students, they have $33,400 to spend over five years (200 x $167=$33,400). Choose your equipment and services carefully to stretch your budget over the five-year period. If your student count increases then the budget can increase once updated in the EPC.
Yes, the budgets and categories are confusing. Take another deep belly breath, perhaps try some yoga on the beach, and then read on…
Welcome back 😉
Completing The Form
As noted earlier, a contract is required to be uploaded for equipment and services, unless the Internet service is on a month-to-month basis without a contract. The Form 471 requires information such as the monthly or overall cost of services/equipment, applicant and service provider identification numbers (BEN and SPIN), and each piece of equipment needs to be input separately with the make/model information.
The prep work leading up to filling in the Form 471 can take months, and the forms themselves can take several hours to complete online depending on the amount of services and equipment being requested. Pace yourself, and reward yourself with more beach Yoga, chocolate or whatever keeps you going.
We Can Help!
Grant Consulting Services has helped file hundreds of Form 471’s for schools.
Contact us for more information about how we can help you!