During the filing window, some service providers will begin touting their status as an “E-rate Approved” vendor. Should applicants be looking for “E-rate Approved” vendors and does this mean that every product offered by an “E-rate Approved” vendor is eligible for discount?
No and No.
“E-rate Approved Vendor” is not an official statutory classification. There is no pre-qualification or screening process required in order for companies to begin participating in the E-rate program. Officially, all a company needs to do is apply for a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) by submitting the FCC Form 498 — a process that is open to any company in the country.
Some companies that successfully obtain an SPIN make the broad assumption that they were “E-rate Approved,” and that everything they have for sale is fully eligible for E-rate discounts. This is not the case.
In theory, the Pizza Hut Corporation could apply for an E-rate SPIN, but this does not mean that large pepperoni pies are going to be eligible for E-rate discounts anytime soon.
If you receive solicitations that make too-good-to-be-true claims of product and service eligibility from an “E-rate Approved Vendor,” remember to fall back on the official E-rate eligibility rules and regulations before you proceed.
The E-rate procurement process can be stressful, but Funds For Learning can help. Continue to check www.fundsforlearning.com for helpful tips on completing the Forms 470 and 471. For more information please contact Funds For Learning at 405-341-4140, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Portions of this tip were originally published as “What is an “E-rate Approved” Vendor?” by Brian Stephens.