When it comes to getting approved for E-Rate, the process can be time consuming. However, once the funds have been committed to your project, all the time and energy you invested will be well worth it! As we know from Part 1 of this blog series, E-Rate will only cover 20–90% of the purchase (only 85% of cat 2). A few important stipulations are that the forms must be filed accurately and timely, and the equipment being requested must be eligible items. If you are unsure about eligibility, the Eligible Services List on USAC’s site is an extremely helpful resource.
Before we get too far into funding specifics, here’s a quick reminder: E-Rate has two invoice methods: BEAR and SPI. The BEAR method means the applicant pays for the entire purchase in full and then submits to USAC for reimbursement. The SPI method is where an applicant will receive discounted invoices from the selected service provider, and the service provider gets reimbursed from USAC.
As we have all come to learn, E-Rate is a complicated topic. With all of the rules and regulations, you have to be careful and make sure you follow each and every guideline given. It’s all too easy to get tied up in the regulations and forget about the next step.
So, how does an applicant come up with the percentage not covered, when their budget is insufficient to cover the remaining costs? Let me tell you. There are tons of options out there to help the applicant with their responsible portion—grants, leasing, and the Community Reinvestment Act are the top three that come to mind.
Grants are not always the easiest to come by, but at Connection, we partner very closely with different distributors throughout the country that offer help finding these grants. One of our partners is Synnex, and through that relationship, we have an Education Program Manager that offers the following:
- Basic Grants 101 training
- SKUs for grant research hours, writing, and workshops by certified grant writer partners
- Resources with education grant links
Next, we have the option of leasing with E-Rate as well. Connection has a very strong relationship with VAR Technology Finance. Cindy Blanchard is our Leasing Program Manager and she is always happy to help when it comes to leasing opportunities. If you are curious about leasing, stay tuned for further installments of my blog series, where we’ll discuss leasing options, the Community Reinvestment Act, and more!