An approved application that indicates monthly income within $100 below, or an annual income within $1,200 below, the income eligibility limitation for free or reduced price meals.
All students and applications approved eligible for free meals. There are four categories of free eligible students/applications:
- Exempt Free - Students approved to receive free meals who are not subject to verification, including students approved for free meals based on direct certification; a homeless, migrant, or runaway liaison list; income-eligible Head Start; pre-K Even Start; and non-applicants approved by local officials.
- Categorically Eligible Free - Students or applications approved for free meals based on a Food Stamp, CalWORKs, KinGAP, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) number submitted on a meal application. Foster students are included in this category.
- Income Eligible Free - Students or applications approved for free meals based on income/household size information submitted on an application.
- Free Count - The number of students counted for free meals in Provision schools that are in a non-base year.
There are three alternative Provisions to the traditional requirements for annual determinations of eligibility for free and reduced price school meals and daily meal counts by type. These alternatives are commonly referred to as Provision 1, Provision 2, and Provision 3. Schools using one of the Provisions do not collect applications annually and are referred to as "Provision schools".
- Base Year - The first year of a Provision cycle. During the base year, the site collects applications for free and reduced price meals and conducts verification of applications. When completing the online Verification Report, include base year Provision schools in Items 3, 4, and 8 through 12, 14, and 15. Do not include base year Provision schools in Items 5, 6, 13, and 16.
- Non-Base Year - A year during which a Provision school does not collect applications; therefore, verification is not required. When completing the online Verification Report, include non-base year Provision schools in Items 5, 6, 13, and 16. Do not include non-base year Provision schools in Items 3, 4, and 8 through 12, 14, 15, and 18 through 27. (Some exceptions apply to Provision 1 schools using FREE eligible applications for the 2nd [non-base] year.) See instructions in Items 8, 10, and 12.
All students and applications approved eligible for reduced-price meals. There are two categories of reduced-price eligible students/applications:
- Income Eligible Reduced-Price - Students or applications approved for reduced-price meals based on income/household size information submitted on an application.
- Reduced-Price Count - The number of students counted for reduced-price meals in Provision schools that are in a non-base year.
USDA requires schools to report the counts of eligible students as of October 31, and the counts of applications as of October 1.
Applications for residential students are exempt from the verification process. The verification report applies to RCCIs with day students when the RCCI claims the day students' meals based upon an Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals. RCCIs are to report the number of sites that collect applications for day students and the number of day students.
- Items 18 through 27 - Data entered in these items designate the status of applications as of the completion date of the application's verification. Report data using the following completion dates:
- If eligibility does not change, the verification completion date is the date a reviewing official confirmed the eligibility.
- If a notice of change in eligibility is sent to a household, and the household does not appeal the change, the verification completion date is the first operating day following the last date to file an appeal.
- If a notice of change in eligibility is sent to a household, and the household appeals the change, the verification completion date is the first operating day following a decision by the hearing official.
- Basic Sample Size - The lesser of 3 percent of all approved applications on file as of October 1 or 3,000 applications. The basic sample must be drawn from approved error-prone applications (applications that list household income within $100 below the monthly or $1,200 below the annual F/RP eligibility guidelines for that household size). If there are not enough error-prone applications to comply with the required sample size, LEAs must randomly select additional applications to fulfill the percentage or number requirement.
- Alternate Sample Size - In lieu of the basic sample size, local educational agencies (LEA) may be able to use one of two alternate sample sizes. To do so, an LEA must meet the following conditions:
- LEA has 20,000 or fewer students approved for F/RP school meals as of October 1, and the non-response rate (the percentage of approved household applications selected for verification for which the LEA did not obtain verification information by November 15) for the preceding school year as of November 15 is less than 20 percent; or
- LEA has more than 20,000 children approved for F/RP school meals as of October 1, and the non-response rate for the preceding school year as of November 15 is at least 10 percent below the verification non-response rate for the second preceding school year.
LEAs that meet the above criteria can choose to verify applications using one of two alternate sample sizes, Alternate-Focused or Alternate-Random:
- Alternate-Focused -LEAs that qualify to use an Alternate Sample Size can verify 1 percent of all applications selected from error-prone applications or 1,000 error-prone applications, whichever is less, and verify the lesser of 0.5 percent (½ of 1 percent) or 500 applications approved based on categorical eligibility (the application included a case number to indicate participation in food stamps, CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR).
- Alternate-Random - LEAs that qualify to use an Alternate Sample Size can verify 3 percent or 3,000, whichever is less, of all approved applications on file on October 1.
- No Verifications Performed - LEA is not exempt from Verification Reporting, but did not conduct verification for the current school year because:
- LEA has all schools in Provision 2/3 non-base year;
- LEA has only free eligible students who are not subject to verification (directly certified, migrant, runaway, or homeless); or
- LEA has approved free/reduced-price applications, but failed to conduct verification.