E-Rate Glossary



The Allowable Vender Selection/Contract Date is referred to as the Allowable Contract Date, or ACD.  This date is always 28 days from the posting of the Form 470 and/or the Request for Proposal (RFP), whichever is later.




According to FCC rules, any party aggrieved by an action taken by USAC or SLD may appeal that decision.  The appeal may be filed first with SLD and, if not satisfactorily resolved, then with the FCC.  Alternatively, appeals may be filed with the FCC directly.  An appeal cannot be filed with both the SLD and FCC simultaneously.


Application Review


Application review is conducted by Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) staff.  They review the Form 471 and supporting documentation to ensure that only eligible entities are receiving services; that the services requested are eligible and are provided by eligible Service Providers to eligible facilities.  It is possible that PIA staff may reach out to the applicant, the Service Provider, or both, in an effort to clarify information contained in the application or supporting documentation. 


Basic Phone Service


Local and long distance voice communications provided to customers, often referred to as Plain Old Telephone Service or “POTS”.




A bid is a response from a service provider to a FCC Form 470.


Billed Entity Number


A Billed Entity Number (BEN) is the unique number assigned by USAC to each Billed Entity – the school, library or consortium – that pays for services.


Billing Account Number


The account number that an applicant has established with their service provider for billing purposes.


Category of Service


This is the type of service for which applicants request funding.  The categories of services are:  Telecommunications Services, Internet Access, Internal Connections, or Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections.


Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)


The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was signed into law in December 2000.  The FCC released a Report and Order on CIPA in April 2001.  In order to receive discounts for Internet Access and Internal Connections services, school or library authorities must certify that they are enforcing a policy of Internet safety that includes measures to block of filter Internet access for both minors and adults to certain visual depictions.  The relevant authority with responsibility for administration of the E-rate eligible school or library must certify the status of its compliance for the purpose of CIPA in order to receive E-rate discounts. *Beginning July 1, 2012, schools and school districts must have updated their CIPA policies to incorporate the provisions of the “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act”; including the requirement that education must be provided regarding online safety and cyberbullying awareness and response.


Client (or Customer) Service Bureau (CSB)


The Schools and Libraries Division’s customer service center, or “help desk,” where applicants and service providers receive answers to general questions about E-rate.  This toll-free service established by SLD can be reached by telephone at 888-203-8100 or by the “Submit A Question” feature on the USAC website.




Commitment Adjustment of a funding request.  As stated in the Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL), the applicant’s receipt of funding commitments is contingent on compliance with all statutory, regulatory, and procedural requirements of the E-rate Program.  If the SLD subsequently determines that a funding commitment was made in error, SLD may be required to cancel the commitment and/or seek repayment of funds disbursed in violation of Program rules.


Common Carrier


Any telecommunications company that provides telecommunications services for a fee to the public within its geographic area.


Competitive Bidding Process


The process by which schools or libraries obtain bids on their requests for services.  The process begins with the posting of a FCC Form 470 on the SLD’s web site and must remain open for 28 days while potential service providers submit bids on services requested.  It does not supplant any other competitive bidding process used by the applicant or any procurement rules required by the state.  Any time after the end of the 28 day period, an applicant may sign a contract (if necessary) with the service provider who offers the most competitive bid for services sought.  Tariff and month-to-month services do not require a signed contract, but must be posted on the Form 470 annually.


Contingency Clause


A paragraph or statement within a contract which stipulates that the agreement is conditional upon receipt of funding from the Universal Service Fund for Schools and Libraries.




A legally binding agreement between two or more parties in which there is usually an exchange of goods and/or services for compensation within a specific period of time.


Contract Award Date


The date a contract for services was signed.  In almost every instance, this date must be on or before the date that your Form 471 is submitted and certified.


Contract Expiration Date


The date that the contract for a specific service ends.


Direct Connections


High-speed lines, such as aT-1 connection, that connects a local area network (LAN) to the Internet or other online services.




The amount of support that an applicant will receive from the E-rate fund.  It is the portion of an applicant’s bill that the service provider will collect from the Universal Service Fund, not the applicant.  Discounts are paid directly by USAC to the applicant’s service provider out of the Universal Service Fund.  The level of discount ranges from 20% to 90% and is determined by the number of students eligible for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. 




“Education rate” – The name commonly used to describe the Universal Service Fund for Schools and Libraries Program.


Eligible Entity


Any school, school district, library, library system or consortium that meets the definition as defined by E-rate program rules.  In general, schools must meet the statutory definition of elementary or secondary schools founding the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 7801 (18) and (38).  Schools operating as for-profit businesses or who have endowments exceeding $50 million are not eligible.  Libraries must meet the statutory definition of library or library consortium found in the Library Services and Technology Act, Pub. L. No. 104-208, sec. 211 et seq., 110 Stat. 3009 (1996) and must be eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under that act.


Eligible Services


Any type of communications service or equipment that qualify for E-rate discounts consistent with program rules.  There are four types of eligible services:  Telecommunications services, Internet access, Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections.  See the SLD Eligible Services List (ESL) for details.  The list is released annually by the Federal Communication Commission.




An organization representing a specific group of people or business interests and can be a school, school district, library, library system, or consortium.


Entity Number


An entity number is a unique number assigned to organizations and institutions by the SLD as a means of identification on all applications and communications.  An entity number and a billed entity number are not always the same.


Federal Communications Commission


The independent, regulatory U.S. federal agency that is responsible for developing and implementing policy concerning interstate and internal communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.  The FCC interprets statutes passed by Congress and writes the rules governing all universal service support programs, including E-rate.  This agency controls how much funding is available each program year for E-rate and has the authority to change the rules of the program as it is administered.


Form 470


The Description of Services Requested and Confirmation form is the first form required by applicants in the E-rate application process.  It provides applicant date and information on the applicants’ current use of technology and future technological needs.  It must be posted to the SLD website for 28 calendar days before moving forward in the application process.


Form 470 Application Number


A fifteen-digit number assigned to all Form 470 applications submitted to the SLD.  Applicants use this number when completing the Form 471 to refer to the Form 470 which established each contract or service agreement.


Form 470 Receipt Notification Letter (RNL)


Letter sent to applicants informing them of the date that their Form 470 was posted to the SLD web site for bidding.  Also gives the Allowable Vendor Selection/Contract Date needed for the Form 471. 


Form 471


The Services Ordered and Certification form is the second form required by applicants in the E-rate application process.  It includes detailed requests for funding, specifying contract dates, service providers, and pre-discount estimates and amounts.


Form 471 Application Number


Up to ten digits, this number is assigned by the SLD to each Form 471 submitted by applicants during the application process.  It is used to track all Forms 471 that have been entered into the SLD database.  Applicants use this number when completing a Form 486 and when seeking reimbursements via Form 472 (BEAR).


Form 472 (BEAR)


The Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) form is filed by an applicant seeking reimbursements for bills that were paid in full and now qualify for a discount.  It essentially becomes an invoice by which the SLD sends a check to the associated service provider who in turn reimburses the applicant.


Form 472 Notification Letter


This letter notifies service providers that the SLD has received and accepted a Form 472 from the named applicant listing the service provider.


Form 473 (SPAC)


The Service Provider Annual Certification (SPAC) must be filed annually by participating service providers.  It is an agreement wherein telecommunications and internal connections vendors certify to comply with the program’s rules.  It is required by those service providers seeking an identification number to share with its customers.


Form 474 (SPIF or SPI)


The Service Provider Invoice Form (SPI or SPIF) is used by participating vendors to invoice the SLD for E-rate eligible services delivered at a discount to customers qualifying for E-rate support.  It may be submitted manually or electronically after the applicant has notified the SLD of receipt of services using Form 486.


Form 479


The Certification by Administrative Authority to Billed Entity of Compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act form is used to certify CIPA compliance for consortium members to the consortium lead.  If the Administrative Authority is not the Billed Entity, the Administrative Authority must complete FCC Form 479 and submit the Form 479 to the Billed Entity.  The Billed Entity then certifies on Form 486 that it has collected duly completed and signed Form(s) 479 for the Administrative Authority(ies) it represents. 


Form 486


The Receipt of Service Confirmation form is the third form required in the E-rate application process.  It is filed by applicants, who have been approved for E-rate discounts, to notify the SLD that services requested and funded are being received by the applicant, or have been received by the applicant in the relevant Funding Year.  Receipt by SLD of a properly completed Form 486 triggers the process for SLD to receive invoices.  It indicates technology plan approval as required. 


Form 486 Notification Letter


This letter is to notify applicants that the SLD has received and accepted an FCC Form 486 and it confirms the information provided.  This information is also shared with the service provider whose SPIN was identified on the affected Funding Request Number(s).


Form 500


The Adjustment to Funding Commitment and Modification to Receipt of Service Confirmation form filed by applicants for changes to or cancellation of a funding commitment request.  The applicant can change a service start date, change a contract expiration date, cancel a funding request, or reduce a funding request.


Form 500 Notification Letter


This letter is to notify applicants that the SLD has received and accepted an FCC Form 500 and it confirms the information provided.  This information is also shared with the service provider whose SPIN was identified on the affected Funding Request Number(s).


Fund Administrator


The Universal Service Administrator will be referred to as the “SLD” or “Fund Administrator.”  SLD is the Schools and Libraries Division of USAC.


Funding Commitment Decision


This represents the TOTAL amount of funding that the SLD has reserved to reimburse the cost of the discounts for a particular service for the specified funding year.


Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL)


A letter from the SLD to the applicant informing them of the level of E-rate funding commitment that has been awarded on each funding request.  A service provider will also receive a FCDL for each customer that listed its SPIN on a FRN.  These letters are mailed to both applicants and service providers in “waves.”


Federal Registration Number (FRN)


Number assigned by the FCC to each building receiving E-rate dollars.  Applicants must request a number from the FCC via the website, www.fcc.gov


Funding Request Number (FRN)


Once an applicant’s Form 471 is data entered, this number is assigned by the SLD to each Block 5.  It is provided on the Funding Commitment Decision Letter as is used to communicate to applicants and service providers the status of individual discount requests submitted on a Form 471.


Funding Waves


FCDLs are sent out when a number of applications are completed.  The SLD calls these groups of letters sent out at the same time waves.


Funding Year


Funding years begin on July 1 and end on the following June 30. 


Good Samaritan


In situations where the original service provider has gone out of business or has filed for bankruptcy protection before processing BEAR payment(s) for applicants, the SLD may assist applicants in obtaining such BEAR payments through a “Good Samaritan” service provider.  The role of the Good Samaritan is simply to receive the BEAR payment from the SLD and pass the reimbursement through to the applicant within 20 business days of that service provider receiving the check from USAC.




Helping Applicants to Succeed (HATS) is an applicant outreach program established by USAC.


Ineligible Services


Any product or service not eligible for E-rate discounts as prescribed in program rules.


Internet Service Provider (ISP)


Any company or service provider that sells Internet access or other online services to customers via dial-up connections, dedicated lines, or wireless service.


Invoice Deadline


The deadline by which an invoice must be presented to the SLD for payment of eligible services to eligible recipients.


Long Distance


Long Distance Telephone Service is provided interexchange carriers, and provides telephone service outside of a local calling area.  Long Distance Service and associated charges are eligible for discount.


Master Contract


A contract that is filed and competitively bid by a state or third party on behalf of schools or libraries.  Eligible schools filing Forms 470 may consider the rates and terms set forth in a master contract as bids. 


Ministerial and Clerical Errors


Ministerial and clerical errors are defined as data entry errors or mistakes made by applicants on the Form 470 or Form 471.


Month-to-Month Services


Month-to-Month (MTM) services which do not require a signed, written contract.  Your billing arrangement signifies that you are receiving your services on a month-to-month basis.  These include services such as Internet access, cellular services and paging services.  These arrangements are different from tariffed services, which may also be offered month-to-month, but at regulated prices.


Non-Discount Portion


The non-discount portion is the applicant’s share of the cost of the eligible E-rate services.


Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)


A form of basic telephone service which supplies standard single line telephones, telephone lines, and access to the public switched network. 


Pre-discount cost


The total price of services before the E-rate discount is applied.


Priority 1 Service


Under FCC rules, Priority 1 services – telecommunications and internet access requests - are funded first, and remaining funds are then applied to approved requests for Priority 2 services.


Priority 2 Service


Under FCC rules, Priority 1 services are funded first, and remaining funds are then applied to approved requests for Priority 2 - Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections.


Program Integrity Assurance (PIA)


A component of the SLD which reviews applications and invoices for compliance with the E-rate program rules as prescribed by the FCC.


Program Year


The fiscal year, July 1 through June 30, as defined by the FCC’s rules during which discounts are applied.


Receipt Acknowledgement Letter (RAL)


A letter to applicants and service providers acknowledging that the SLD has received and entered into its data system the Form 471 submitted by the applicant on which the service provider’s SPIN was listed.  Applicants should review the data for corrections and send any changes to the SLD.


Schools and Libraries Division (SLD)


Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) responsible for administering the universal service support fund for schools and libraries (E-rate).


Selective Review


PIA review, during Form 471 processing, done to assure the integrity of E-rate; PIA checks compliance with applicant certifications and the competitive bidding process.




Self-certification means that the SLD will hold the applicants and the Service Providers to the statements made in applications, registration, certification and invoice forms.


Service Delivery Deadline


The deadline by which products and services must be delivered to be eligible for universal service funds.


Service Provider


Any business or organization that sells the connections or equipment necessary for communicating via telephone, Internet, or on a network of computers.


Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN)


A unique nine-digit number assigned by USAC to individual service providers participating in the E-rate program after submitting Form 473.  It is required to complete Forms 471 and to verify delivery of services and disbursements via Form 486.  The number does not change as long as the service provider participates in the universal service programs.  It is required on all forms referring to a service provider in order to identify the service provider.


Service Start Date (SSD)


For contracted, tariffed, and month-to-month services, the service start date is the date when services will begin in the funding year for which the applicant is applying. 


Shared Services


Services that are delivered to more than one site identified in an application as participating in the use of such services.  For example, telephone service used by all of the schools in a district would be considered a shared service.  E-rate discounts for these services are based on average or aggregate discount rates.


Site-specific Services


Services that are used only by an individual building (such as a school) identified in an application. 


Tariffed Services


Telecommunications services, purchased at regulatory prices, for which the applicant does not have a signed, written contract.


Technology Plan


An outline of an applicant’s strategy for using the services being requested under the Universal Service Fund to further the educational goals of the organization.  Approved technology plans must include five key elements:  goals and strategies for using the new services; professional development plan; assessment of current systems and what is needed to reach goals; adequate budget to cover the costs not eligible for E-rate discounts; and, an evaluation strategy to determine the effectiveness of the technology plan.  Plans are approved at the local or state level and should cover a period of no more than three years.  All applicants must have an approved technology plan prior to the service start date or the filing of the Form 486, whichever is later.  Technology plans must be written (in place) prior to the posting of the Form 470.  Technology plans are NOT required for Priority 1 services.




Telecommunications is “the transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received.”  47 U.S.C. § 153(43 and 47 C.F.R. § 54.5.


Telecommunications Act of 1996


A major overhaul of the Communications Act of 1934; the Snowe-Exon-Kerrey amendment of the 1996 Act provides the statutory basis for expanding the Universal Service Fund to include schools and libraries.


Telecommunications Provider


Any business that provides telephone service to the public, between or among points specified by the user, without change in the form or content of the information sent and received.  Generally, telecommunications providers receive authority to operate from state regulatory commissions.


Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)


The not-for-profit parent company of the Schools and Libraries Division responsible for overseeing the administration of the Universal Service Fund and delivering disbursements to service providers participating in any of its programs, including the E-rate program.


Universal Service Fund (USF)


The fund that provides discounts to telecommunications carriers for delivering affordable telecommunications services to high-cost customers, libraries, low-income consumers, rural health care providers, and schools, both public and private.  It is generated through collections by all telecommunications carriers (both local and long distance) and its size is determined by the FCC.


Weighted Average


The calculated amount that reflects the percentage of students among the eligible schools in a school district.


Whistleblower Hotline


The Whistleblower Hotline (Code 9 Calls) allows applicants, service providers, and others to alert the SLD – anonymously, if desired – to instances where E-rate funds are being misapplied or where potential program rule violations may exist.


Wide Area Network (WAN)


A voice, date, and/or video network that provides connections from within an eligible organization to other locations beyond the organization. 




The earliest date that a Form 471 can be filed will be the date established by the Fund Administrator as the opening of the Form 471 filing window.  The Form 471 application window is the period during which applications will be considered as having arrived simultaneously.  All Forms 471, including certifications, received or postmarked by the close of the application window are considered as if they had arrived on the same day, and have priority over those postmarked after the closing date of the window.