General Questions

Yes, you bet there are hidden rules and we call them ”gotcha’s.” This is the very reason why you will find E-Rate guidance on this page that you may not find in the reference area of the USAC website. For example, “why is an applicant selected for a cost-effective review or audit?”

They look in their secret black-book of E-Rate rules! Basically, cost-effective review is a math problem. USAC determines the cost of a service or service category and then divides that cost by the number of students. If the cost is higher than the amount listed in the black-book, then a letter is sent to the applicant requesting proof that the service is cost-effective.

One rule of thumb for basic maintenance is never request more than $49.95 per student per year for basic maintenance. No guarantees…but it is usually is determined as cost-effective as long as you have a break/fix contract. DO NOT PAY A VENDOR FOR WORK THAT HAS NOT BEEN PERFORMED. vENDOR AGREEMENT SHOULD INCLUDE THE VENDOR’S HOURLY RATE FOR SERVICES AND THE MAKE, MODEL AND QUANITY OF EQUIPMENT COVERED UNDER THE AGREEMENT.

You will never find the directions on the USAC website, but it is a rather simple process. When applicants that have funding approved for a new vendor to deliver services for 12-months, but deployment is delayed, applicants may need to “split” the funding. Applicants can use the operational SPIN change guidance to “split” the funding.

Let’s say therules are buried in the guidance.

Did you know that Internet Access services cannot be used “off-premises” unless the applicants cost-allocates the off premises usage?

Don’t check email or use any Internet Access on a wireless device when the service is paid with E-Rate discounts with first cost-allocating the non-eligible use. The rule can be found under Educational Purpose in the reference area…not in the eligible services list.

Voice services can be accessed off premises, but the rule states ” In certain limited circumstances”, telecommunications services used offsite may be eligible.

Examples of thes limited circumstatces are “a school bus driver’s use of wireless telecommunications services while delivering children to and from school, a library staff person’s use of wireless telecommunications service on a library’s mobile library unit van, and the use by teachers or other school staff of wireless telecommunications service while accompanying students on a field trip or sporting event.”

YES! USAC staff addressed this issue at the 2011 USAC training in New Orleans. “Yes, all Internet Access has to be filtered.” Some cellular companies can set-up filtering through their network and some school filters can be used to filter cellular traffic.

Applicants requesting a Priority One service which includes a “bundled piece of equipment” such as a router will need to answer the questions below. Well, here are the answers:

Question from Reviewer: Please provide a YES/NO response to the following questions, and include your signature and title; or if responding via email, include your name and title.

  1. Is the leased on-premise equipment an integral component of a Telecommunications or Internet Access service? YES
  1. Will the leased on-premise equipment be provided by the same service provider that provides the associated Telecommunications Service or Internet Access service? Yes
  2. Does responsibility for maintaining the equipment rest with the service provider? Yes
  3. Will ownership of the equipment transfer to the school or library in the future? No
  4. Does the relevant contract or lease include an option for the applicant to purchase the equipment? No

5a. If Yes, do you intend to exercise this option? No (Recommendation: Do not include the option)

6. Will the leased equipment be used at the applicant site for any purpose other than receipt of the eligible Telecommunications Services or Internet Access of which it is a part? No

7. Will the school’s or library’s internal communication systems (e.g., LAN, video, phone, or other communication system) continue to work if the component is disconnected? Yes

8 . Are there any contractual, technical, or other limitations that would prevent the service provider from using its network equipment, in part, for other customers? No

Question #8 is a trick question. The reason for answeringno is because the vendor owns the equipment therefore, under the program rules the applicant cannot have exclusive use of the equipment. This set of questions is based on the FCC Tennessee Decision.