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Instructions on Black Hole Funding

E-rate applicants who may be eligible for six more months of funding for telecommunications services and Internet access should watch for a fax from the Schools and Libraries Division, detailing the procedures they will have to follow to qualify for the funds.

Applicants should receive the fax if they received a funding commitment for telecommunications services or Internet access under a contract that expired before Dec. 31, 1998. If the applicant had extended its contract, and continued to pay the same service provider during the first six months of 1999, it should be eligible for additional support.

Last year, when the Federal Communications Commission extended the 1998 funding year to June 30, 1999, it agreed to provide six additional months of support for telecommunications services and Internet access to those applicants who had signed contracts that expired on or after Dec. 31, 1998. Applicants with such a contract received the additional support when their funding commitments were approved earlier this year.

However, applicants with contracts expiring before Dec. 31, 1998 were given no additional money. After state leaders and other applicants complained to the FCC, the commission voted in March that if applicants had extended their original contract beyond Dec. 31, 1998, they could receive up to six additional months of funding, covering from January 1999 to June 30, 1999.

Mickey Revenaugh, the SLD's vice president of outreach, told workshops held in conjunction with the NECC '99 conference June 22-24 in Atlantic City, NJ, that applicants in this situation would receive a fax instructing them to file a Form 486 indicating their contract had been extended. Once the applicant had received a revised funding commitment letter, it would be able to file a Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) form to recover the payments it had already made.

Faxes received by E-rate applicants have indicated different dates by which the Form 486 filing must be made.

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