We’re ready for E-Rate – Are YOU? (But just in case you’re not, we’ve got some great tips for you)

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Windstream helps K-12 schools and libraries earn 20-90% discounts on telecom and Internet services through the E-Rate Program.

Ding Ding—that’s the sound of your E-Rate alarm clock, reminding you that the FY2014 Form 471 filing window is open!

Our K-12 customers were so excited about receiving E-Rate discounts on their state-of-the-art Windstream solutions, they were the VERY FIRST filers for the year! Not one, but two Windstream customers have the distinct honor of filing the first Form 471’s for the categories of library and school district for the 2014 funding year—so cheers to you, E-Rate overachievers—you know who you are.

Schools and libraries across the country are actively filing their Form 471 applications, requesting E-Rate discounts on eligible products and services. The Form 471 requires applicants to disclose the recipients of services, discount calculations, cost of services, dates of services and descriptions of services.

So, are you ready to get your E-rate on? Excellent! Then check out the following helpful tips and reminders when filing your Form 471:

  1. Deadline, deadline, deadline! Remember, the Form 471 cannot be filed before the Allowable Vendor Selection/Contract Date (ACD), which is 28 days after the FCC Form 470 is posted to the USAC website. This year, the deadline to submit Form 471 applications is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26.
  2. File early. Filing early ensures that you’ll meet program deadlines and allows time to correct any errors or to file a new Form 471, if necessary.
  3. File online. Filing online allows for a quicker E-Rate process, and may also reduce errors, since applicants receive earlier confirmation of their approved discount percentages.
  4. File Item 21 Attachments online. Item 21 Attachments provide detailed descriptions of the services in each funding request. They must be submitted or the Form 471 is considered incomplete. (Don’t forget – the deadline for Item 21 Attachments is also March 26th.)
  5. Save all E-Rate documents. Keeping copies of all documentation makes it much easier if your compliance is ever audited – you won’t have to worry, because you’ll have all of your documentation handy.
  6. Review all program guidance material.  The USAC website is a great resource for E-Rate program rules, applicant steps and an eligible services list.  Make a point of checking the site weekly for updates or news.
  7. Ask for assistance. The E-Rate process can be overwhelming and confusing. It’s important to maintain communication with your USAC representative during the filing window, to make sure your applications and forms have been received and that they’re error-free. Don’t leave anything to chance—if you have a question, ask!

Windstream’s smart solutions and personalized service for K-12 schools and libraries, combined with our successful history as an approved E-Rate service provider, allow us to provide technology necessary for the most innovative and effective learning environments. And don’t forget about our top-notch E-Rate Support team, who is dedicated to our customers’ continued success with the E-Rate program.

Congratulations to the first successful online filers of the FY2014 E-Rate application window—we’re looking forward to many, many more. Are YOU ready to file? Because we’re ready for YOU! Contact one of our trusted E-Rate Advisors today to learn more!