The Allowable Vendor Selection/Contract Date is commonly referred to as Allowable Contract Date, or ACD.  The ACD is the earliest date on which an applicant can sign a contract for contracted services or enter into an arrangement for tariffed (T) or month-to-month (MTM) services with a service provider.  This date is always 28 days from the posting of the 470 and/or the public availability of the RFP (if one is issued), whichever is later.


The Appeals Decision Letter ADL contains USAC’s decision on appellant’s appeal requests.


The BEN (Billed Entity Number) is the unique number assigned by USAC to each Billed Entity – the entity that pays for services.  See also Entity Number.


The Client Service Bureau (CSB) is a helpline available to assist applicants and service providers.  You can reach the helpline using “Submit a Question” from the USAC website, toll-free via fax at 1-888-276-8736, or toll-free via phone at 1-888-203-8100.


Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections is one of the four categories of service.  Basic maintenance ensures the necessary and continued operation of eligible internal connections at eligible locations.


The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a law that mandates certain Internet Safety policy and filtering requirements for recipients of E-Rate discounts for services other than Telecommunications Services.


Commitment Adjustment (COMAD) is the process by which a funding commitment is reduced because of Program rules.


The Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is a web based USAC tool used to access information related to applications, funding commitments, and disbursements.


The Eligible Services List (ESL) is a list of the products and services approved by the FCC for funding under the Schools and Libraries Program for a particular funding year.


An Educational Service Agency (ESA) is a regional public multi-service agency authorized by state statute to develop, manage, and provide services or programs to its component school districts.  In some states, ESAs are called Educational Service Units (ESUs), Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), or other similar designations.


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency. The FCC oversees the E-Rate Program.


The FCC Registration Number is an identifying number assigned to Program participants by the FCC.  It is associated with an entity’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).


A Funding Commitment Decision Letter contains USAC’s funding decisions on an applicant’s funding requests.


The Funding Request Number (FRN) is a number assigned by USAC to each Form 471 Block 5 Discount Funding Request.


Each Funding Year (FY) runs from July 1 to the following June 30. 


Helping Applicants to Succeed (HATS) is an outreach and training program established by USAC to help applicants and service providers by providing targeted, customized training and outreach.


A Local Area Network (LAN) is a voice, data, and/or video network that provides connections generally within an eligible school or library to other locations within the school or library.


A Letter of Agency (LOA) authorizes (1) a consortium leader to apply for E-Rate discounts on behalf of each consortium member or (2) a consultant to conduct specified activities on behalf of an applicant or service provider.


LSTA stands for the Library Services and Technology Act 20 U.S.C. § 9121 et seq., (1996)


A Non-Instructional Facility (NIF) is a school building without classrooms or a library building without public areas. Examples of school NIFs include administrative buildings, bus barns, and cafeteria facilities.  Examples of library NIFs include administrative buildings, bookmobile garages, and interlibrary loan facilities.


Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is used by the FCC to detail proposed changes to FCC rules and policies and seek public comment.


National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides school lunches to eligible students at a free or reduced rate.


The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is a division of the FCC that provides independent and objective audits and investigations relating to agency programs and operations.


Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a component of the Executive Office of the President of The United States.  It reviews and approves FCC forms and other means of data collection. 


Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) is the compliance review process completed before funding commitments are made by USAC.


Personal Identification Number (PIN) is a code assigned to a specific authorized person at a specific Billed Entity to allow online form certification.


Public Notice (PN) is issued by the FCC to notify the public of an action taken, a change made, or an upcoming event.


The Receipt Acknowledgment Letter (RAL) is issued by USAC to both the applicant and service provider to indicate that a timely filed Form 471 has been received and certified.


Revised Funding Commitment Decision Letter (RFCDL) is issued by USAC to applicants and service providers when changes to a funding commitment occur, usually as the result of a successful appeal.


Request For Proposal (RFP) is a form of solicitation for products or services that provides detailed information regarding those products or services and any additional details necessary for potential bidders to respond.


Recovery of Improperly Disbursed Funds (RIDF) is required when there has been a Committment Adjustment (COMAD) but funds have already been disbursed in excess of the revised commitment amount.


Form 470 Receipt Notification Letter is a letter issued by USAC to notify applicants that the Form 470 has been successfully posted.


Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) is a division of USAC which administers the Schools and Libraries Support Mechanism – commonly known as E-Rate.


Service Provider (SP) is an entity that provides eligible products and services to eligible entities.


Service Provider Invoice - See Form 474


Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) is the unique number assigned to each service provider participating in the Universal Service Fund (USF).  See Form 498.


Selective Review Information Request (SRIR) is the request for information sent to applicants when they have been chosen for Selective Review.


Technology Plan Approver (TPA) is an agency or organization that has been certified by USAC to approve technology plans.


Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is the private, not-for-profit corporation responsible for administering the Universal Service Fund (USF).


Universal Service Fund (USF) was established in 1983 to help ensure that all Americans can afford telephone service wherever they live and to provide for discounts on services for schools, libraries, rural health care facilities and high cost and low income areas.


Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows users to make phone calls using the same line as an Internet connection.


Wide Area Network (WAN) is a voice, data, and/or video network that provides connections from within an eligible school or library to other locations beyond the school or library.


Basic Terms

Alternative Discount Mechanisms

Schools that choose not to use the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation numbers to calculate E-Rate discounts may use certain federally approved alternative mechanisms instead.  These alternative discount mechanisms are based on—or do not exceed—the same measure of poverty established for the NSLP. 


An appeal is a request to reconsider a USAC decision.  Appeals can be made to either USAC or the FCC.  Appeals must be filed within 60 days of the original USAC decision.  Requests for waivers of rules must be filed directly with the FCC.

Basic Terminating Component

A basic terminating component, which is normally located on a customer’s premises, is necessary to receive an end-to-end service because it provides translation of the digital transmission using the appropriate protocols.  Equipment such as channel service unit/data service units (CSU/DSUs), network interface devices, cable modems, and gateways are considered basic terminating components.


A Bid is a response from a service provider (bidder) to a Form 470 and/or RFP.

Block 4 Worksheet

One of six blocks on the Form 471 where the applicant lists the entities receiving services and establishes the appropriate discount level.

Block 5

The funding request block on the Form 471 where the applicant provides details about services requested, including service provider, category of service, and cost.

Common Carrier

A common carrier is an organization either specifically recognized by a regulatory authority (such as a state public utility commission) to provide telecommunications services to all requesting parties, or an organization that holds itself out to provide such services generally to the public for a fee. 

Competitive Bidding Process

Filing a Form 470 opens a competitive bidding process.  During this process, service providers respond to applicants based on the products and services requested in the Form 470/RFP.  Applicants must ensure that the process is open and fair.


A consortium is a group of entities that band together for administrative efficiency or to obtain bulk pricing and/or to apply for E-Rate funding. 


A consultant is a company or individual selected to perform certain activities on behalf of an applicant or service provider. A Letter of Agency (LOA) or consultant agreement must be in place before the consultant undertakes these activities.  

Contract Award Date

The Contract Award Date (CAD) is the date the contract is awarded by the applicant to the service provider.

Contract Expiration Date

The Contract Expiration Date (CED) is the date the contract between the applicant and service provider ends.

Dark Fiber

Dark fiber refers to fiber optic cable for which the service provider has not provided modulating electronics to light the fiber.

Demarcation or Demarc               

A demarcation refers to the point where a service provider’s network ends and where an applicant’s local area network (LAN) begins.


The discount on E-Rate eligible services for an entity or group of entities ranges from a low of 20% to a high of 90% and is based on a measure of poverty and urban/rural status. 


E-Cert is the electronic certification process applicants can use to electronically sign their online forms using a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Eligible Entity

An eligible entity is:

• an elementary and/or secondary institution that meets the definition found in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. § 7801(18) and (38), or

• a library or library consortium that meets the definition found in the Library Services and Technology Act, 20 U.S.C. § 9121 et seq., (1996) (LSTA) and is eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under that Act.

Eligible Services               

Eligible Services are products and services that are eligible for E-Rate support.  Eligible Services are divided into two priorities and four categories:

Priority 1 includes Telecommunication Services and Internet Access

Priority 2 includes Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections.

Entity Number

An entity number is the unique number assigned by USAC to an entity that participates in the E-Rate Program.


“E-Rate” is a common term used in place of “the Schools and Libraries Program.” E-Rate provides discounts to schools and libraries for eligible products and services.

Form 471 Filing Window

The Form 471 filing window is the period – generally between mid-November and mid-February prior to the start of the Funding Year – when forms filed are treated as having been received on the same day and are considered for funding before any forms filed after the window closes.

Head Start

Head Start is a comprehensive child development program that serves children from ages 3- 5 and their families. 

Item 21 Attachment

The Item 21 Attachment to Form 471 provides details on the products or services requested in FRNs that appear on the form.


A mini-bid is an evaluation process used by applicants when a state files a Form 470 and signs state master contracts with more than one service provider as a result.  The applicant cannot simply choose one of these service providers, but must evaluate all eligible state master contracts and demonstrate why the service provider it chooses is the most cost-effective solution.

Ministerial and Clerical Errors

Ministerial and clerical errors are errors made in E-Rate forms that can be corrected after the forms are submitted to USAC.

News Brief

The News Brief is a weekly newsletter that provides up-to-date Program information, including important dates and tips regarding the application process and other breaking news.

No Child Left  Behind Act

The No Child Left Behind Act provides the statutory definition of elementary and secondary schools.

Non-discount portion

The non-discount portion of an FRN is the applicant’s share of the cost, i.e., the cost of services not covered by the E-Rate discount.

On-premise Priority One Equipment

On-premise Priority One Equipment is equipment owned by a service provider but located at an applicant site.  This equipment can be funded as Priority 1 if it meets the conditions of the “Tennessee Test” (see definition lower on this page).


Priority 1 Telecommunications and Internet Access services are known collectively as “Priority 1” since they are considered primary and funded first.


Priority 2 Internal Connections Other than Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections are collectively known as “Priority 2” since they are funded after Telecommunications and Internet Access services, beginning with the applicants at the highest discount levels.

Quarterly Disbursement Report               

The Quarterly Disbursement Report is a report issued to the applicant detailing all invoicing activity (BEARs and SPIs) during the previous quarter.

Red Light Rule

The Red Light Rule requires the FCC to withhold action on applications and other requests for benefits when the entity seeking benefits is delinquent in non-tax debts owed to the FCC or other federal governmental agencies, and to dismiss such applications or other request if the delinquency is not resolved.


A remand is an action by the FCC to return applications to USAC for further review.

Selective Review

Selective Review is a detailed compliance review in addition to the normal Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) review that certain applicants must undergo before funding commitments can be issued.

Service End Date

The Service End Date is the date that services will end for an FRN. USAC may adjust this date if a Program violation is identified or a deadline is missed.

Service Start Date

The Service Start Date is the date that services will start for aFunding Request Number (FRN). USAC may adjust this date if a Program violation is identified or a deadline is missed.

Shared Discounts

Shared discounts are discounts calculated for a group of individual schools and/or libraries that will share a particular service. They may be simple averages or weighted averages of the discounts of the individual entities.

Service Substitution

A service substitution is a change in the products and/or services requested in a Funding Request Number (FRN).

State Master Contract  

A State Master Contract (SMC) is a contract implemented by a state government which can be used by eligible entities within the state to procure products and/or services. 

Technology Plan

A technology (tech) plan is a plan prepared by a school or library that sets out how information technology and telecommunications infrastructure will be used to achieve educational goals, specific curriculum reforms, or library service improvements. 

Technology Plan Approval Date

The technology plan approval date is the date that a USAC-certified Technology Plan Approver officially approves the technology plan. (This is different from the technology plan creation date.)

Technology Plan Approval Letter

The technology plan approval letter is issued by a USAC-certified Technology Plan Approver to approve an applicant’s technology plan. Approvals may also be issued electronically or posted on a website.

Technology Plan Creation Date

The technology plan creation date is the date that a technology plan was first written or prepared.  (It is not the date that the final version of the plan was approved.)

Tennessee Test

The term “Tennessee Test” comes from an FCC decision which specified the various conditions that an applicant must meet for on-premises equipment to be funded as Priority 1 services.

Tip Sheets

Tip sheets are one-page documents that provide helpful information on specific E-Rate topics and best practices. 

Two-in-Five Rule

The Two-In-Five Rule states that, beginning with FY 2005, eligible entities will only be able to receive E-Rate discounts for Internal Connections Other than Basic Maintenance two out of every five funding years.


A wave is the term used for a group of funding commitment notifications that USAC issues to applicants and service providers on a given date. Waves are usually issued weekly.

Whistleblower Hotline “Code 9 Call”

The Whistleblower Hotline allows members of the public to report suspected violations of Program rules to USAC.  These reports can be made anonymously toll-free by calling 1-888-203-8100.



Form 470

The Description of Services Requested and Certification Form 470 opens the competitive bidding process for services desired by applicants that are eligible for discounts under the E-Rate program. 

Form 471

The Services Ordered and Certification Form 471 is used by the applicant to report services ordered and discounts requested for those services.

Form 472 (BEAR) Form

The Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form 472 is submitted by the applicant after paying for services in full to request reimbursement for the discount on those services.  

Form 473 (SPAC) Form

The Service Provider Annual Certification (SPAC) Form 473 is filed annually by the service provider to certify that the service provider will follow Program rules and guidelines. This must be filed before USAC will pay invoices.

Form 474 (SPI) Form

The Service Provider Invoice (SPI) Form 474 is submitted by the service provider to request reimbursement for discounts already provided to Billed Entities on customer bills.

Form 486

The Receipt of Service Confirmation Form 486 is filed by the applicant to inform USAC that services have begun and provide the status of the applicant’s technology plan approval and of CIPA compliance. 

Form 498

The Service Provider Information Form 498 is completed by service providers to obtain a SPIN (see SPIN below) and to provide and update contact information.

Form 499-A

The Annual Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet Form 499-A is completed by Program contributors – interstate telecommunications providers – to report annual revenues. 

Form 499-Q

The Quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet Form 499–Q is completed by Program contributors – interstate telecommunications providers – to report quarterly revenues. 

Form 500

The Adjustment to Funding Commitment and Modification to Receipt of Service Confirmation Form 500 is used by applicants to notify USAC of reductions to or cancellations of approved FRNs and/or changes to reported Service Start Dates or Contract Expiration Dates.



BEAR Notification Letter

The BEAR (Form 472) Notification Letter is sent to the service provider and the applicant after the BEAR has been processed by USAC.

Commitment Adjustment Letter             

Commitment Adjustment Letter (CAL) notifies both the applicant and the service provider of a COMAD.  It contains a Funding Commitment Report which lists the Funding Request Numbers (FRNs) affected by the COMAD.

Form 486 Notification Letter

The Form 486 Notification Letter is issued to both the applicant and service provider to indicate that a Form 486 has been successfully processed. 

Funding Commitment Letter

A Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) contains USAC’s funding decisions on an applicant’s funding requests.

1st Demand Letter

The 1st Demand Letter is the initial letter sent by USAC to recover funds from applicants or service providers who have committed Program rule violations.

2nd Demand Letter

The 2nd Demand Letter is a follow-up letter to a 1st Demand Letter sent by USAC in an attempt to recover funds from applicants or service providers who have committed Program rule violations.