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Each school and school district is assigned a BEN (a unique identifier) by USAC. You can find yours on the USAC Search Tools website.
You can obtain your FCC Registration Number by visiting the FCC Registration Number website, or calling the FCC Registration Number help line at 1-877-480-3201 (Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. ET).
Your application number and security code will be emailed to the email address you provide in the form. This allows you to save your progress on the form and complete the remaining steps later, should you have additional questions you need to clarify to be accurate in your application.
To keep various Form 471s organized, assign each one a nickname that identifies if the application is requesting eligible services under Category 1 or Category 2. If you are filing multiple Form 471 applications for Category 1 and Category 2 services, then select a nickname that identifies the category and the type of service for which you are applying. For example, the Form 471 nickname that reflects all eligible broadband services could be saved as “Category 1: Internet”.
Complete your contact information and move on to the next step.
Select whether this Form 471 is for Category 1 or Category 2 services. Use caution, since once you select “Category 1” or “Category 2” you cannot deselect it.
In the “Entity Number” field, enter your district’s BEN and click “add entity”. You will see your district’s name appear with the options of “Enter Data” or “Connectivity Questions.” Choose “Enter Data.” Under the section entitled “Entity Information and Budget Calculation” click on the “+” sign to begin adding the schools and non-instructional facilities within your district. See USAC’s video for step-by-step instructions.
An NCES code is a school or school district’s unique identifier, much like the BEN. An NCES code is assigned by the National Center for Educational Statistics and is used to correlate particular school characteristics such as student population, locale, etc. When adding a school entity in this section, the form will pre-populate an NCES code for you. Please verify that NCES code here to ensure USAC has the correct NCES code for your school and district.
Use the Urban/Rural lookup tool provided by USAC by entering the entity number for your school or district.
All non-instructional facilities (NIF) are defined by a district building without classrooms and are eligible to receive discounts on Category 1 services. Examples of a district’s non-instructional facilities include, administrative buildings, school bus barns and garages, athletic facilities, etc. The USAC website provides more detail.
The primary measure in determining E-rate discounts is the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches under the National School Lunch Program. The FCC does identify other ways to determine a school’s level of need on the USAC website.
This year an applicant discount will be calculated at the school district level, regardless of which schools within the district are receiving these services. After entering all your entities for which you are applying, to calculate your district’s E-rate discount, you must enter the student population and the number of students that qualify for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) for each school. After you add each school’s information, click “Save and Recalculate” and the tool will calculate your district’s E-rate discount. Note that the “Save and Recalculate” button may not be visible at the bottom of the screen, unless you have edited your entity information. For information on the online form and the discount templates see the USAC News Brief about Discount Calculations.
To calculate your school district’s bandwidth per 1000 users, simply divide the total Internet access bandwidth your district receives by the total number of users (students and staff). For example if your district receives 2000 Mbps of Internet and has 1500 users, your bandwidth per user would be 1.33 Mbps/user (2000mbps / 1500 users = 1.33 Mbps/user). Multiply your answer by 1000 to approximate the appropriate selection, which in this case would be 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) per 1000 users.
We’ve found that the only broadband product scalable to 10 Gbps is fiber. This question is trying to understand the number of schools in your district that have a fiber connection. If only a portion of schools in your district have fiber circuits, indicate the number of schools.
Ask your tech director to provide you with guidance regarding each school’s LAN/WLAN sufficiency to support their educational goals with the capacity they have today.
Due to last year’s E-rate Modernization order, there are three possible types of services eligible under Category 1. We’ve found that most services can be categorized into either Internet Access or Voice services. Some examples of these services and the appropriate service type are:
The Narrative allows applicants to clearly identify for USAC the eligible and ineligible services being requested. For example, if you are applying for your district’s main Internet circuit then include “This Item 21 is for Internet access that serves the entire school district.” Or if you are applying for your district’s Wide Area Network include, “This Item 21 is for the WAN transport connections between our 10 schools.” We also advise applicants to include any ineligible services within the Narrative.
It is critical to identify the appropriate “Type of Connection” of the broadband services reflected on each line item. For example, if your school district or school leases fiber from a service provider, identify this product as “Leased Lit Fiber.” If you are unsure of the product for your Internet and/or Transport connections, please clarify with your Tech Director. Below is a chart that can help you select the appropriate Connection Type:
Purpose identifies how your district or school is using the broadband service. USAC defines the three possible purposes as:
To ensure quality data, we are advising applicants to use consistent data transfer rates. For example if you receive 2 Gbps of Internet and have ten 100 Mbps Transport (WAN) connections, please ensure that both funding requests use Mbps. Your funding request for Internet should be identified as 2000 Mbps and your ten Transport (WAN) connections as 100 Mbps. All broadband speeds must be greater than “0”.
We define burstable bandwidth as the customer’s ability to use more bandwidth, temporarily, than what is contracted for. Sometimes you may incur overage charges with this service.
For Category 1 Internet funding requests, you must identify which line items represent “last mile” connections and indicate “Yes” or “No.” USAC defines a last mile connection as a connection to an individual building, such as a WAN connection OR a direct Internet connection for any school or library that does not have a WAN. The main Internet access connection from the service provider to a district hub does not qualify as a last mile connection. For more information, refer to this USAC News Brief. Note that in a subsequent step, you will need to allocate which entities are the recipients of the Last Mile connections.
Wide Area Network (WAN) connections provide broadband transport between schools and/or buildings within a district as shown below. These connections DO NOT include any Internet access circuits that directly connects a district or school to an Internet Service Provider. If the funding request you are applying for reflects Wide Area Network connections, make sure the purpose is identified as “Transport” AND you select “Yes” for WAN.
For every line item labeled as “Last Mile” applicants must identify the entities that receive this service and the number of connections they each receive. You may even see the message “this line item has incomplete recipients,” as the form will not let you continue without identifying the schools receiving the services.
To identify the schools, click on the blue button “Manage Recipients” and a pre-populated form of all the schools within your district will appear. Simply identify which entities receive the “Last Mile” connections. Note that the number of recipients needs to match the quantity of lines for the line item.
Before you begin your online Form 471, assemble the materials you’ll need to make the process as efficient as possible. USAC has a video to help applicants with what information to collect before you begin. Suggested materials include: