Back to the program! We are picking up where we left off with the step-by-step posts about the application process. The last few posts were about the receipt acknowledgement letter (RAL), how to make changes to your funding request, and what changes you can’t make right away.
After you submit FCC Form 471 and get your receipt acknowledgement letter (RAL), your form will be added to the queue for application review.
In the E-rate Program, we call application review “PIA review,” which stands for Program Integrity Assurance review. PIA reviewers check your form for both and accuracy and compliance with program rules.
What we’re checking for
The reviewers at USAC will check your application to ensure that:
- The schools/libraries on your application are eligible for the E-rate Program,
- The products/services you requested are eligible according to the 2016 eligible services list,
- Your discounts were calculated properly,
- Your contracts follow competitive bidding rules, and
- You conducted a fair and open competitive bidding process.
Respond to questions in 15 days or less
Receiving questions (inquiries) from PIA reviewers is a normal part of the application process. Most, but not all, applicants will get an inquiry from a PIA reviewer.
If your PIA reviewer has a question, they’ll post it in your EPC account and send you an email prompting you to log in.
You’re required to respond to questions from PIA reviewers within 15 days. The sooner you respond to information requests, the faster USAC can process your application and issue a funding decision. If you need more time, ask your PIA reviewer for a 7-day extension.
If we find a problem with your application…
We will contact you to answer questions, correct the error, adjust your funding request if needed, and continue on to issue the funding commitment decision letter.
If the reviewer finds that 30%+ of the services on a funding request (FRN) are not eligible for E-rate Funding, the funding request can be denied. This is called the 30% rule. If your PIA reviewer discovers this, they will first give you the opportunity to remove the ineligible items or transfer them to a new funding request.
Certain applications will be picked for selective review, a more detailed version of the PIA review process where your reviewer asks for more comprehensive responses. For example, your reviewer might ask for documentation of how you competitively bid and chose your service provider.
If your application is picked, you’ll receive an email explaining how to proceed, and you can contact your assigned PIA reviewer if you need help responding to the selective review questions.
In the next post, we’ll walk you through the steps to view and respond to questions from your PIA reviewer.