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FCC Continues String of Applicant Friendly Decisions

On September 21st the FCC remanded 91 appeals back to USAC. In all of the appeals, USAC had denied the applicants their requested discount rate for funding. Of the 91 appeals, 69 of them involved schools from Puerto Rico. The remaining 22 appeals involved schools which were located elsewhere in the United States, and the FCC divided these cases into two groups. The first group contained three cases which were appealed because USAC determined insufficient data was provided to document the requested discount level. The second group involved 19 cases which were appealed because USAC did not provide the applicant with enough time to provide the requested documentation.

Puerto Rico The private schools located in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have an exception created by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for reporting National School Lunch Program (NSLP) data. As a result of this exception, all private schools in both of these locations are entitled automatically to an 80% discount rate. The schools can then provide evidence they are entitled to a higher discount amount. Of the 69 Puerto Rico schools, thirty had requested 80% or less in discount levels. The FCC found all of these schools were automatically entitled to the 80% discount rate. The remaining 39 schools had requested a discount rate greater than 80%. The FCC found that the survey information provided by these schools was sufficient to support the discount rate requested; especially since USAC had not provided an explanation as to why the survey information was not accepted.

US- Insufficient Data The three schools denied their requested discount rate due to insufficient data where all located in the state of New York. The FCC found, "USAC denied these applications because a New York state NSLP form had a misleading format that prevented USAC from accurately calculating the percentage of students eligible for the NSLP program. The explanation provided by the State of New York was late, but supported the applicants' originally requested discount percentage." Since the applicants had provided their information on time, USAC should have accepted the late explanation from the state and determined the discount rate the schools had applied for was correct.

US-Insufficient Time The remaining 19 cases all had their discount rates reduced because requested information was not provided before a USAC imposed deadline. The FCC determined, "any violations involved a USAC administrative deadline, not a Commission rule. As the Commission has noted previously, given that these violations were procedural, not substantive, we find that the reduction in funding is not warranted." The FCC has ordered USAC to re-evaluate all of these cases.

Going forward, the FCC has ordered USAC to "inform applicants of any errors regarding the discount rate calculation it identifies, along with specific explanation of how the applicant can remedy such errors. USAC must give applicants a reasonable period of time in which to provide requested information." View the Academia Claret Appeal

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