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Monday, September 29, 2014

Freshening up the 471

Oooh, we're getting a peek at the new online Form 471 at the USAC training.

Overall, it looks pretty slick.

First nicety: Application number and security code gets emailed to you.

First minus: It looks like they've split Block 1 into little steps like the old "Form 471 Interview."  It looks like about 6 pages just to get out of Block 1.  That's great for newbies filling out a form, but it will get tedious if you have multiple forms to enter, and as the system gets bogged down close to the filing window, so that it takes 2 minutes to get each new page, the tediosity will be infuriating.

First big plus:  It looks like there is a single page where I can review the whole application, so the second set of eyes looking at an application doesn't have to plod through the application page by page.  And that page flags any problems.  Plus you can get a Print Preview of the whole form from any screen.

State LEA and State School ID has been added to Block 4.  And apparently doesn't autofill.  But it sounds like you can get away with leaving it blank (though who knows whether PIA will follow up).

You can upload the Item 21 attachments from a spreadsheet!  Yippee!  But it's not clear if you have to upload a separate spreadsheet for each FRN.

There is a cool new allocation tool, which allows you to choose which entities in your Block 4 will use the services in each FRN.  I didn't see an "Add All" button, so it may get tedious to repeatedly have to click on each item on the list for each FRN.

The system for choosing how much Category Two funding to allocate to each entity looks pretty slick.

All in all, it looks pretty good.  Not perfect, but probably a big improvement.

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