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80-Day Window Set for Second E-rate Cycle

The Schools and Libraries Corporation (SLC) announces that the application cycle for the 1999-2000 E-rate funding period will begin with an 80-day window during which all completed applications received by the SLC will be considered as if they had arrived simultaneously. The application window for this second funding year will open on December 1, 1998, and will close on February 19, 1999, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Applying for E-rate funding (officially known as Universal Service for Schools and Libraries) is a two-step process. Eligible schools, libraries, and consortia of those entities first file Form 470, the posting of which to the SLC Web Site triggers a 28-day competitive bidding period for new services (or a 28-day waiting period for existing contracts). After the 28th day, applicants may select a service provider and sign a contract for new services, then file Form 471 requesting discounts on services ordered.

To qualify as "in the window," applicants must fully complete and file both Forms 470 and 471 between December 1, 1998 and February 19, 1999. The latest possible date that a Form 470 can be posted to provide for the subsequent 28-day period and the possibility of successfully filing a Form 471 within the window is January 21, 1999. Posting for new services as late as January 21, 1999, however, requires that two events occur on, and only on, February 19, 1999 in order to complete a filing within the window: 1) contracts for new services are signed; and 2) the Form 471 Application is completed, submitted and received by the SLC on February 19, 1999.

The 1999-2000 funding period will begin July 1, 1999, and run through June 30, 2000. Applicants filing within the 80-day window will be applying for discounts on services that begin July 1, 1999.

The 80-day window for 1999-2000 was established by the SLC Board of Directors to allow schools and libraries sufficient time to plan for their telecommunications technology needs for the coming fiscal year. The 80-day window also provides five additional days compared to the 1998-1999 application window of 75 days. Forms received after the 80th day will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis, in accordance with the FCC's rules.

Application materials will be mailed to public school districts, library systems, and non-public schools prior to December 1, 1998. Materials will also be available via the SLC Web Site and via the toll-free help line, 888-203-8100. Guidance documents will also be available via toll-free fax-on-demand, 800-959-0733.

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