The Schools and Libraries Division has begun distributing a revised Form 486 and a new Form 500 to applicants. It has also put out the word that in Year 3, the Federal Communications Commission will continue to let applicants use the BEAR process or get discounted invoices. Unlike in Year 2, when more specific guidance was given, the SLD has said it will be up to service providers and applicants to work out together which payment method will be used. The most important rule is that you must use the same payment method all year for a particular Funding Request Number. We know that in some cases, great confusion arose when there was a switch in mid-year between the BEAR process and invoicing.
Under the new process, a Form 486 can be filed before the start of the funding year if you have received a funding commitment letter and expect to start receiving the services in July. This has been put in place to help give service providers the time to implement discounted billing at the start of the funding year. However, there is no requirement that you start the process that early.