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E-rate Tips to Make Summer a Success

As we approach the end of June, here are a couple of important notes and reminders to help your summer be as productive as possible (with minimal stress).
Payment Paperwork
The E-rate funding cycle is nowhere near complete until the payment paperwork is submitted and processed. (After that comes the audits and the funding commitment adjustments… sometimes even a decade later, but that is a story for another time.) If you have paid invoices that qualify for reimbursement, start that paperwork now. Your deadline is probably the end of October, but there is no reason to wait. Even if all of the bills have not yet arrived, you still can submit those that have been paid already and process the remaining invoices later.
You do not want to wait until the invoice deadline to get started. If your EPC credentials need a refresh, or if your invoice is erroneously reduced or denied, you will benefit greatly from having a safety margin. Invoice deadline extensions are an on-going source of frustration and there is a debate about how, why and when extra time should be granted for payment paperwork. Do yourself a favor and avoid these debates. Get your paperwork submitted now.
Starting 2017
July 1 will mark the official start of the 2017 funding year. Remember that E-rate discounts are time-sensitive. You can only receive a discount for goods and services that are delivered within the allowable dates for a specific funding request. The service start and end dates must line up with the funding year. They must also coincide with the effective dates of the service provider contract. Many applicants are still waiting to receive their 2017 funding commitments. Others have received their funding decisions and are waiting to submit their Form 486 as soon as USAC gets their system operational. Whatever your situation, now is a good time to consider and confirm the best start dates for the services you will be using. For some, you may choose to proceed regardless of the status of your funding commitments. For others, you may need to wait until a funding decision letter is released.
Prepping for 2018
The FCC and USAC both took steps this week to help prepare us all for the next, next funding year (i.e. FY2018). The FCC released a draft of the 2018 Eligible Services List and is seeking comments from the E-rate community. If there are changes that you hope to see in eligible services, this is your chance to let the FCC know.
Additionally, this week, USAC released the FY2018 Form 470 in EPC. This makes it easier for applicants who have a procurement with a long cycle time to get started. It is also useful for applicants who just want to get ahead of the cycle. The earlier a procurement starts, the earlier it ends. By releasing the new Form 470, USAC has given applicants the opportunity to kick-off FY2018 in a better position than last year.
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