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FirstClass E-Rate Funding

Important Notice:
As of June 2017, Common World Inc. will no longer be selling or supporting FirstClass. Starting July 2017, our service contracts will not support FirstClass Servers or any FirstClass Solution. We will be pushing new communication software and solutions for our clients and customers that best fit their needs. We have already started writing plans and roadmaps for our current RA Customers that will replace FirstClass with other software and services.

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Below information is legacy web content (pre June 2017)
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How to Apply for E-Rate Funding

Download FC_Erate.pdfpdf-icon.png

To ensure your school or district does not miss the opportunity to take advantage of available E-Rate funds, we encourage you to submit your 470 Application as soon as possible.

Step 1: File Form 470 (Roughly July through December)

The first step in applying for E-Rate funds is to file a Description of Services Requested and Certification Form (Form 470) which describes the services your school or district is interested in purchasing.

For complete guidelines on filing the Form 470, please refer to the SLDís website at

FirstClass Email Services, Voicemail Services, Web Hosting, Supporting Hardware, and Maintenance and Support are eligible within the 'Internal Connections' category of the E-rate funding program.

FirstClass can offer hosted email services and/or hosted web services, eligible within the ìInternet Accessî category of the E-rate program, through a qualified FirstClass partner or Intermediate Unit.

If you wish to receive a proposal from FirstClass or other vendors providing similar services, simply check Box 9 (Internal Connections) and enter the desired service (e.g. ìEmail Serviceî, ìVoicemail Serviceî, etc.) along with the total number of users and school sites you wish to cover.

Below is sample of what a Form 470, Block 2, Box 9 on your application might look like.


As FirstClass is a fully integrated solution that offers advanced messaging, collaboration, document sharing, and publishing capabilities, there are considerations as they relate to cost-allocation of eligible versus ineligible components.

After filing a Form 470, you must then wait 28 days before moving on to Step 2. This 28-day waiting period allows vendors to bid on the services you've specified. During this time, you are obligated to consider any and all proposals that you may receive from vendors. Note, however, that even though you may have applied for a certain service, you are not required to follow through with it in Step 2, should you decide not to.

Step 2: File Form 471 (Roughly January through mid-February)

After the 28 days have gone by since filing your Form 470, you may then sign a contract with the vendor you have chosen. Note: Your contract should contain a contingency clause that nullifies the agreement should E-rate funding not come through for whatever reason. Once a contract has been signed, you must then file a Form 471 which details all of the services you've chosen to implement and names all of the vendors that will be doing the work.


In naming vendors on a Form 471, you will need to provide their E-rate Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) and, potentially, their FCC Registration Number.

The FirstClass SPIN number (listed under Open Text Inc.) is 143029766 and our FCC Registration Number (listed under Open Text Inc.) is 0012434718.

Step 3: File Form 486 (July and beyond)

Once the SLD has reviewed your Form 471 and monies have been allocated for that program year, you will then receive a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL) specifying which elements of your application have been funded and which have been denied. If your funding request has been approved, you may then begin to implement your services. Once service has begun, you must then file a Form 486 which informs the SLD that disbursement of funds can begin.


E-Rate Considerations: Messaging vs. Document Collaboration and Publishing

FirstClass has been delivering advanced messaging, collaboration, document sharing and publishing capabilities to education organizations for 15 years, and has been designed to do this in a highly integrated fashion with all these features bound together in a tightly-integrated product. This has many benefits for our customers including ease of use, richer feature set and lower operational costs. †

Evidence of this tight integration lies in the fact that we do not, nor have we ever, charged separately for document collaboration or publishing features separate from separate features. FirstClass customers around the world use all of these features as part of their standard FirstClass license.

At the same time Open Text understands the vital need to provide a way to objectively cost allocate the portion of FirstClass that can be considered to be in the realm of collaboration and publishing (which is not eligible for E-rate funding) from the core area of messaging and basic groupware (which is eligible for E-rate funding).

The Schools and Libraries Division ("SLD") has stated that a software solution like FirstClass that includes an integrated combination of e-mail and groupware features, but for which no individual feature pricing is available, can be partially eligible for E-rate support if a portion of the cost attributable to the ineligible groupware feature is "backed out." †It is important to note that any cost allocation method may be employed, so long as it is "based on tangible criteria, and provides a realistic result." (Reference: Cost Allocation Guidelines for Products and Services that Contain Eligible and Ineligible Components -- Section 1c.and Internal Connections -- First Model: Cost allocation for products and services with mixed eligibility)

The SLD recognizes that in certain cases, as in the case of FirstClass for example, it "may be difficult" to determine beforehand exactly how much usage the eligible and ineligible features of a product are going to receive after it is installed. "Thus," the SLD says, "the applicant may have questions about how such components should be cost allocated." In these circumstances, the SLD explains, "cost allocation information submitted to the SLD by service providers and applicants can be based on comparative retail prices, a breakdown of the storage capacity utilized, manufacturing costs of component parts, and other factors." †(Reference: Cost Allocation Guidelines for File Servers and Other Components)

There are a number of different methodologies that could be used to objectively allocate out of FirstClass the cost attributable to the ineligible document collaboration features. We feel the most accurate way to do this is to actually measure the ratio of messages created to documents created in a randomly chosen sample of existing large FirstClass systems that are in use today in education environments similar in size and scope to your organization. Such an analysis provides a good measure of how much of a typical FirstClass education system is used in a messaging context vs. a document publishing context.

The results obtained from a random sample of large FirstClass system sites conducted in January 2005 are as follows:

Customer Site

Message Objects

Document Objects

Messages/Total (%)

Open Text/FirstClass




Hillsborough County




Broward County






Because so many features are so tightly integrated with the messaging components of FirstClass, and because users benefit from their knowledge of the messaging interface within FirstClass when expanding to other features, this research suggests that a typical FirstClass system deployed in an education environment is used for messaging activities 97.6% of the time and document collaboration activities 2.4% of the time. We believe this is representative of usage at other education sites.

However, since the sample size, although picked at random, was relatively small we have chosen to be conservative by adding 5% to the measured figure to come up with a net percentage for cost allocation.

Measured ratio of Messaging Objects to Total Objects
Allowance for statistical variations and other considerations
Net figure used to allocate costs for Email
Net figure used to allocate costs for Document Collaboration

It is possible that in the solicitation of E-rate funding your organization may feel it is appropriate to use a different figure (perhaps the actual measured figure) instead of the conservative figure put forward by Open Text. We would be pleased to review the information further with your organization at the appropriate time. Additional data from a larger sample size of FirstClass deployments may be measured and provided if requested.         

Last updated Sat, Jun 3, 2017 8:24 AM    

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