Secondary School Educators/E-Rate

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Question
How much should a school expect to pay for E-Rate consulting services.  For example, if a school receives annual funding in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, how much should the school expect to pay a consultant to be responsible for the process?

Answer
The answer, of course, is that it varies.  Some consultants will charge a percentage of funding received, but most consultants are charging a flat fee.  Also, the fee may depend on more than just the size of your funding request.  If, for instance, you have one large school with a single multi-year contract for phones and Internet, that's an easy application.  If, however, you have 10 small schools, with a variety of contracts for service, that requires a good deal more work.  And if you are applying for Priority Two, that is even more complex.

The amount of the fee depends somewhat on the level of service.  Some consultants are basically just making sure your forms get filed correctly; you do all the work of dealing with vendors and responding to PIA requests, calculating amounts for BEARs (including determining what charges are ineligible), filing appeals if necessary.  This type of consultant is valuable if you have a good understanding of the program, and just need someone to remind you of deadlines and help you avoid mistakes.  For such a services, you might expect to pay $2,500.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are companies (like my firm) that allow you to outsource the whole funding process.  In addition to filing all the forms, we collect the bids from the Form 470, deal with PIA, review contracts and bills to determine ineligible services, calculate your BEAR amounts or set up discounted billing, certify the forms for you, file any necessary appeals, etc.  Our goal is to collect some information from you at the beginning of the funding year, give you a summary of bids received so you can make vendor selections, and get some billing information at the end of the funding year, and that's it.  The only other paperwork most of our clients have to handle is cashing the check.  For that level of service, you might have to pay closer to $10,000.  

If you're interested in getting more pricing information, I would suggest picking a few firms from the website of the E-Rate Management Professionals Association (http://www.e-mpa.org/allmembers.aspx) and asking them for a description of the service they provide and a quote.

Secondary School Educators

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Dan Riordan

Expertise

I am an expert in the E-Rate, the Schools & Libraries portion of the Universal Service Fund. I can answer questions for school districts on all topics related to applying for the program and receiving funds.

Experience

When the E-Rate was first implemented, I was trained by the NJ Department of Education to assist schools in obtaining funding. Since then, I have worked inside school districts and as a consultant, getting funding for a wide range of schools and libraries.

Organizations
E-Rate Management Professionals Association (E-mpa™), Founding Board Member, first Ethics Committee Chairman New Jersey Association of School Business Officials (NJASBO), Associate Member Monmouth County Association of School Business Officials, Associate Member Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), Associate Member Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials International (PASBO) New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), Allied Member International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Member Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Individual Member Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA), Private Sector Non-Attorney Member Society for Telecommunications Consultants (STC), Consultant Member New Jersey Library Association (ALA), Corporate Member New Jersey Library Association (NJLA), Commercial Member New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), Member

Publications
Keypost, July 2003

Education/Credentials
Certified E-Rate Management Professional

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