- Customer Stories
- How to Buy
First, determine how much E-rate funding your school is eligible. You will need to be able to answer 3 questions:
Next, plug the answers to questions 1-3 above into the Xirrus online E-rate calculator to determine your E-rate budget: https://www.xirrus.com/e-rate/calculate-funds/.
Note that E-rate provides two options to pay for the technology: 1) Wi-Fi as a Purchase, where you own and operate the equipment; and 2) Wi-Fi as a Service, where a service provider manages the equipment. You will need to select one or the other option in the E-rate calculator.
Next determine the scope of your project:
Finally, ensure you have an account in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC):
To initiate the E-rate process with USAC, start by filing Form 470. This lets vendors know that you are applying for E-rate and provides the opportunity for them to place competitive bids. You may choose to include an RFP (Request for Proposal) with the 470 that provides greater level of detail about your requirements.
After filing your 470, vendors have 28 days to respond with a bid. You then review the bids, select the winning vendor, and sign the appropriate contracts. Expect multiple bids and use a scoring matrix to evaluate them (see link to example below).
When the E-rate filing window opens up, typically in January of the funding year, file Form 471 which requests the E-rate discounts on the contracted purchases and calls out the winning bidder. The filing window is typically open for about 3 months until late March or April.
In this step, the 471 applications are reviewed by USAC in what is called the Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) process. The application is checked for accuracy and completeness and you may be issued additional questions which you must respond to in 15 days or less. At the end of the PIA process, a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) is sent to all parties confirming USAC’s funding decisions.
File Form 486 to “turn on funding” and start your project. After receipt, a notification letter is sent to all parties.
After your 486 is approved, you or your service provider can begin invoicing for funding. There are two options: