Most school districts won't have proper NSLP or enrollment statistics prior to the E-Rate filing deadline in Spring of 2021. Some may have reports from August 2020, prior to restarting the Summer Feeding Program but, most likely, the numbers aren't favorable.
To address this, the FCC recently released the following guidance:
Recognizing that student enrollment at schools has been impacted by COVID-19, and funding year 2021 being the first year of the five-year budget cycle under the new rules, we will permit applicants to provide their full-time enrollment numbers from their funding year 2020 FCC Form 471 applications in funding year 2021.
We remind applicants that they must validate their student enrollment numbers once during the five-year funding cycle to set their category two budgets and may update the enrollment numbers in future funding years during the five-year cycle if they choose to do so.
So, we can use last years enrollment information on this year's 471 application. Just know that if your enrollment doesn't return to 2019-20 levels, your Category 2 budget will be reduced and any excess spending will have to be returned.
The Funding Year begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th of the next year and is known for the year it begins. Thus, Funding Year 2020 begins on 7/1/2020 and ends on 6/30/2021.
Funding Years can also be known by the number of years from the start of the program, with "Year 1" in 1998. So, Funding Year 2020 might also be known as "Year 23."
Eligible services are broken into two categories. Category 1 services include Data Transmission and Internet Access. This includes fiber projects to connect your sites through a Wide Area Network (WAN), as well as direct internet connections between your hub and Internet Service Provider.
Category 2 services include Internal Connections, Basic Maintenance of those connections or Managed Internal Broadband Services. Eligible equipment for these services include routers, firewalls, switches, wireless access points and controllers, cabling (fiber and copper), and battery backup.
The FCC phased out support for telephone and voice services from 2015 to 2019. Therefore, telephone lines, long distance services, cell phones and hosted voice over IP services are no longer eligible.
E-Rate offers two options for invoicing, Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) and Service Provider Invoice (SPI).
In both cases, the service provider is paid in full, while the applicant pays only their share. We recommend the BEAR method for monthly recurring services (Category 1) and SPI method for larger, non-recurring costs (Category 2).
All documentation should be kept on file and accessible for at least 10 years after the last date to receive services, in case of an audit.
The FCC introduced the Category 2 Budgeting process in 2015, eliminating the Two-in-Five Rule that had been in place up til then.
Starting in Funding Year 2021, the FCC has changed the process again.
Equipment may be transferred to another eligible entity, i.e. school or library, 3 years after installation. You must maintain a record of the transfer and notify USAC.
5 years after installation, the equipment can be traded in or disposed of.
Beginning in Funding Year 2021, however, you may transfer equipment between sites at any time, without notifying USAC of the transfer, though you must still maintain a record of the transfer.
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