Today, the Schools and Libraries Divisions of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which administers the E-rate program, announced that it will extend the current form 471 filing window through May 26. For libraries and consortia, a second window will open to extend the filing window for those two groups until July 21. This additional window is in recognition of the difficulty libraries and larger consortia have had in completing the application process. The new and final day to file the 470 will be June 23.
With the new online filing system, there have been numerous issues preventing libraries from moving forward on their applications. While USAC has continually made efforts to provide updated information and fixes to the EPC system, it has proved challenging for many libraries to accurately finish and file an application. ALA requested the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) work with USAC to extend the filing window so libraries that have been struggling would still have an opportunity to apply, especially given the funding available for Category 2 services which most libraries have not been able to touch for most of the life of the E-rate program. We know that USAC and the FCC both heard the concerns of the library community and responded so that libraries are not inadvertently disadvantaged in this year’s filing window.
Regardless of the window extension, libraries will still need to work through the application process and solve any continuing kinks in their EPC accounts. There’s help out there! If you haven’t yet, connect with your state E-rate coordinator, who is there to help you. Check out Libraryerate, a new peer 2 peer portal for E-rate resources – and be sure to sign up for the News Brief from USAC for the latest information. As we get further information, we will be sure to make sure the library community is aware of it.
As of this posting you have 41 days, 6 hours, 14 minutes, and 32 seconds till the new May 26 deadline. Someone else who is better at math than I am can figure out the remaining hours before July 21. Or better still, allow yourself a little breathing room on a Friday afternoon and be ready to start fresh and take full advantage of the extra time.