by Luis Maza Thursday, March 22nd, 2012.
Education depends on the efficient flow and access to information. Realizing this, the Federal Government has established the Federal E-Rate program that supports the education sector’s need for telecommunications services, internet access and internal connections. This program is created under the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 where schools and libraries stand to receive 20% to as much as 90% for the network and telecommunications services they avail.
Eligibility for Jive Education funding will be determined based on how many eligible students are part of the National School Lunch Program and whether the educational institution can be considered urban or rural. Applications are submitted to the Schools and Library Division (SLD). Those applying for funding will need to submit three forms to the SLD in order to qualify. These forms can be found at http://www.usac.org/sl/tools/required-forms.aspx.
As a business phone service provider, Jive Communications can provide you with guidance on the applications process, as well as the rules that apply to eligibility. Jive also provides you with a way to analyze the total cost of ownership (and subsequent savings) when you are considered eligible for funding and at what E-rate discount. This is for E-rate eligible services such as:
- Jive Hosted VoIP
- Jive Broadband
- Jive Hosted Video
- Jive Hosted Email
It is important to note that we can only provide you with information and help regarding our services and products before you post your Form 460, after which the competitive bidding process begins. At this point, Jive can only be involved in the process as a bidder.
The Jive Cost Analyzer
This is an efficient yet easy way to compare costs of Jive Hosted VoIP vs. On-Premises PBX. This helps you easily input pertinent details such as number of users, E-Rate Discount and IT Compensation provided as well as cost of set-up, which includes:
- One time charges
- Hardware cost
- Monthly fees
- Services fees
- Employee time required to set-up and maintain
- Maintenance fees
The system provides you with a comprehensive report which makes you easily compare between Business VoIP systems and On-Premises PBX systems. This shows you a clearer picture of savings with regards to the total cost of ownership of a Jive Cloud PBX system.
A Brief Look at the E-Rate Application Process
There are various forms that you as an educational institution will have to file every year. Here are the steps involved in the application:
- Determine eligibility. Your state’s Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) will determine and confirm eligibility, which they will review every two years. Before applying, you need to make sure that your school is eligible for the E-Rate funding.
- Determine your Entity Number and PIN. You can get this from the Schools and Libraries Division under USAC. You need to confirm that there are no existing entity numbers for your school. If there is a number, that is what you can use to file your application. If there is no existing entity numb, you should request one from the SLD.
- Draft a Technology Plan. This is particularly for Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. A Technology Plan outlines how the planned telecommunications infrastructure and information technology will be used for educational purposes, how it meshes with the curriculum and what improvements will be made on key areas such as library service. The technology plan must be in writing and date-stamped.
- Review current usage and bills and draft request for services. List down the products and services that you will need that are also eligible for E-Rate discounts.
- File Form 470 (Description of Services Requested and Certification Form). This begins that bidding process since the list of services and products you will need will be given to interested providers for bidding.
- File Form 471. This identifies the most cost-effective provider after bids have been evaluated. Form 471 request E-Rate discounts for the services ordered.
- USAC review of Form 471 documents. USAC will verify the accuracy of details in Form 471, including the products and services eligible and applicable discounts for these. After this, USAC will issue Funding Commitment Decision Letters to the applicant and the winning provider.
- Approval of Technology Plan
- File Form 486 (Receipt of Service Confirmation Form) and Form 500 (when applicable). This provides information such as when the services started and what products and services have been delivered. Form 500 releases any unused funds for the funding year.
- Submit invoice to USAC. Jive may submit Form 474 in order to apply discounts to the school’s billing. The school may also file Form 472, where they will initially pay the provider in full and get a reimbursement of the discount from USAC/SLD.
- Review of technology plan and implementation. This looks at how effective the plan and its implementation are in reaching educational goals set for the year.