Common E-Rate Questions

Who should certify my BEAR Form?
If you've submitted a BEAR Form/Form 472 online, please contact E-rate Customer Care at 888-846-6586 so they can access the form to certify it.

What SPIN should I use?
Basically, use the SPIN (Service Provider Identification Number) for the TDS office location you're served by. If you're served by TDS Metrocom, USLINK, or Baja Broadband, there's one SPIN for all locations. You can find a list of TDS SPINs at www.tdsbusiness.com/e-rate, or feel free to call E-rate Customer Care for help at 888-846-6586.

Do I have to post a 470 each year if I have a multi-year contract?
According to Schools & Libraries (SLD), if you mark that you're seeking a multi-year contract on your 470 Form in the initial year of the contract, you don't have to post a 470 each year for the term of the contract. Many of our customers choose the multi-year option because they save time by avoiding the extra "paperwork," and also because pricing is often even better with a longer term contract.

My E-rate funding decreased - why would that happen?
There are a number of reasons that SLD may reduce funding for your school or library. Some of the typical reasons are that certain products/services you sought funding for are ineligible, that you submitted your 486 after the deadline so SLD set a new service start date, or that your billing amount decreased so your funding decreased.

Can a Service Provider just bill SLD for the discounted portion of services?
As stated by SLD, an applicant is responsible for paying a Service Provider for services received, and then is reimbursed by the Service Provider on their bill, or by check after submitting a BEAR form.

What are the benefits of getting reimbursed by check after submitting a BEAR Form?
Many of our customers choose to be reimbursed by check because it's easy to track, it accurately reflects the services used and costs of those services, and the school/library can choose the timing that's most convenient.

When TDS sent me an email asking for my choice of reimbursement, why weren't all my Funding Request Numbers (FRNs) listed?
The 486 notification we receive triggers us to send an email asking for your choice of reimbursement. We include only the FRNs that were listed on the particular 486 notification we received from SLD.

Can I change Service Providers during the funding year?
According to SLD, a school or library is allowed to change Service Providers after they receive the Funding Commitment Decision Letter. You should also talk with your current provider to ensure you can get out of the contract. If you decide to change providers, you must do an Operational SPIN Change. Instructions can be found on the SLD Web site at www.universalservice.org/sl.

Our school has decided to get TDS managedIP Hosted - which category of funding should I use when applying for E-rate?
When applying for E-rate funding for TDS managedIP Hosted, you can apply using the Telecommunications or the Internet Access category, according to USAC. This is beneficial because both categories are Priority 1 Services, meaning they're funded before Internal Connections or Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections. You can also file a 470 for the recurring cost of switches in the Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections category (Priority 2).

Who can I contact if I have a question about E-rate reimbursement on my bill?
You can call E-rate Customer Care at 888-846-6586 - the team has access to your billing information as well as your E-rate funding details.

Do I have to select the Service Provider with the lowest price?
If you're setting up a weighted set of criteria, price has to be the single highest factor, but you can use multiple factors that are important to you. Some factors listed in an example by SLD are:

Cost of eligible services - 30%
Prior experience - 25%
Management capability - 15%
Customer service - 15%
Local vendor - 15%
Total - 100%