You may have heard us talking about the “471 filing window” around the website, in the SL News Brief, and here. Before you start your E-rate Program application, it’s important to understand what the filing window is, and how it can affect the amount of funding available to you.
What’s the filing window?
Each year, the E-rate Program announces an FCC Form 471 “filing window.” The E-rate Program funding request form (FCC Form 471) can only be submitted once the “filing window” begins.
If you submit your form during the filing window, your application will be equally considered for funding as all other applications submitted during the filing window.
For example, if you submit your form on February 15 and another school doesn’t submit its form until March 3, when the forms are reviewed, since they were both within the filing period, they’ll be equally considered for funding.
Applications submitted after the filing window ends are unlikely to receive funding. So, we strongly recommend that you certify your application before the filing window closes.
Also, you should plan on submitting your form well before the filing window ends to avoid last-minute problems, like running out of time for competitive bidding (!), missing documents, or questions from USAC about your application.
So when is the 2016 filing window?
The FY2016 filing window begins Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at noon EST, and ends on
Friday, April 29, 2016 Thursday, May 26 for schools, and Thursday, July 21 for libraries and consortia, at 11:59 PM EDT.*
Visit the E-rate Program homepage to see a countdown clock until the window closes!
What you can do now
The filing window only applies to the funding request form (FCC Form 471). Before starting your funding requests, you need to do three things to prepare:
- Log into the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC),
- Set up your school/library’s profile in EPC, and
- Submit FCC Form 470 to describe the services you need and initiate competitive bidding.
Stay tuned; we’ll cover these items in detail over the next couple of posts.
Update: The filing window is extended to May 26 for schools and school districts, and July 21 for libraries and consortia. Learn more about the update in USAC’s Latest News update.