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Eligibility Manual Highlight of Changes. Revised January 2008. Revised Manual. Published by USDA in January 30, 2008 With Pink Cover No longer using USDA manual from 2001 Includes all current information Includes more details. Application for F/R Eligibility.

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Eligibility ManualHighlight of Changes

Revised January 2008


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Revised Manual

  • Published by USDA in January 30, 2008

    • With Pink Cover

  • No longer using USDA manual from 2001

  • Includes all current information

  • Includes more details


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Application for F/R Eligibility

If you do not use the USDA free and reduced application template, you must submit your revision to State Agency for approval.


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Categorically Eligible Students

  • Food Stamp or TANF recipients

  • Enrollment in a Head Start or Even Start program

  • Homeless child as determined by liaison

  • Migrant child as determined by liaison

  • Runaway child as determined by liaison


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Direct Certification

  • Required as of 08-09 school year

  • Children eligible for free benefits based on documentation obtained directly from the Department of Education.

  • Homeless, migrant, runaway, or Head Start/Even Start certified through local liaison. (Pg 4 Part 1 D)


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Important timeframes

  • Prior Year Approval Period

    • Applications from a prior year are only valid for the first 30 operating days of the school year. (Pg 15, Part 3 B Carryover)

      • LEAs must sent a 10 day written notice of 30 day carryover expiration to inform parents of decreased benefits (per State Department).

      • The new eligibility determination supersedes the carryover eligibility.

      • SAs and LEAs CANNOT establish a shorter time frame for carryover (pg16).


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Important timeframes

  • Application processing

    • Application MUST be reviewed, an eligibility determination made, and implemented within 10 working days of receipt. Whenever possible, applications should be processed immediately. (Pg 16, Part 3 B Application Processing)


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Important timeframes

  • Temporary Free Approval

    • Applications with “0” (zero) income indicated can be approved for up to 45 days until next contact with household. (Pg 21 Part 3 H Temporary Approval)


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Important timeframes

  • Application Retention

    • All applications and direct cert lists must be kept minimum of 4 years after final claim is submitted or as long as required for resolution of the issues raised by an audit (whichever is longer).



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Food Stamp Applications

  • Each LEA must be familiar with the format of valid case numbers.

  • Only the case number may be used to determine eligibility. The electronic benefit (EBT) card number used is not acceptable. (Pg 20 Part 3 F)


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Household Members Income

  • ALL household members in Part 4 have to either have an amount of income or the box checked with no income for the application to be complete.

    (Pg 19 Part 3 E)


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Temporary Free

  • Reasons a child can be categorized as temporary free (Pg 21 Part 3 H)

    • The point of sale identifies them as this category in the first 30 days based on the previous years’ application when no current year application is on file.

    • Household reports no income.

      • Can be approved for up to 45 calendar days.


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Temporary Free

  • Temporary Layoffs

    • Can be approved for up to 45 calendar days.

  • Strikes

    • Can be approved for up to 45 calendar days.

  • Temporary Disability

    • Can be approved for up to 45 calendar days.

    • LEAs can reduce the amount of days but cannot exceed 45 days.


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Temporary Free

  • At the end of the period, the household should be contacted. (Pg 21-22 Part 3 H)

    • If there is no change, the district can do one of the following:

      • Continue eligibility on a temporary basis for another interval of time and DOCUMENT.

        OR

      • Make the approval valid for the duration of the current school year which would allow for carry-over of that status into the next school year and DOCUMENT.

    • If there is a change, the district needs to send a new application to the household so that they may reapply for benefits and DOCUMENT.


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New Student?

  • Student enrolls in school, what is the eligibility process?

    • The student needs to take an application home for the parent to fill out.

    • The school district has 10 working days to process and implement this child’s status.



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Household Members Income

  • ALL household members in Part 4 have to be clear on whether the income provided is weekly, biweekly, bimonthly, or monthly. If it is unclear, the school officials must contact the household prior to denial, document the details of the contact, and date and initial the entry on the application.

    (Pg 22 Part 3 I)


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Transferring Students

  • Within a school district- (Pg 24 Part 3 N)

    • Note the date of transfer

    • Note the date of change

    • Implement the change by updating rosters


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Transferring Students

  • Between LEAs- (Pg 25 Part 3 N)

    • May accept their eligibility but need a copy of the application

    • Accepting LEA must review the application for errors in determination

    • If an error occurred, the accepting LEA must notify household for a new application.


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Household Composition

  • Economic Units

  • Special Situations


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Economic Units

  • Household composition for the purpose of making an eligibility determination for free and reduced priced benefits is based on Economic Units. (Pg 31 Part 4 B)

  • An economic unit is a group of related or unrelated individuals who share housing and/or significant income and expenses of its members.


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Economic Units

  • Generally, individuals residing in the same house are an economic unit.

  • However, more than one economic unit may reside together in the same house.

    • Separate economic units in the same house are characterized by prorating expenses and economic independence from one another.


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Special Situations (Pg 31-32)

  • Adopted child is included in the household.

  • Child away at school is included in the household.

  • Child living with one parent is considered a household member where he/she resides.

  • When joint custody is awarded, the child might be free with one parent and reduced with another. The greatest benefit is used.


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Special Situations

  • Emancipated Child is considered household of one.

  • Foreign Exchange student is considered to be a member of the household in which he/she resides.

  • Foster Child is considered household of one.

  • Family members who are activated or deployed in the armed services still counts as a member of the household.



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Deadlines for Verification

October 1stCount all approved applications on file

November 15thComplete verification process

February 15th Track reinstatements from Nov 15th through Feb 15th

March 1st Verification summary due to the State Agency


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What Verification Method?

  • Check our website for the “SFAs Qualifying for Alternate Verification Method” list approving districts to use the alternate verification method. Requirements to being eligible on Pg 69


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Verification Process

  • Verification is NOT required for the following (Pg 65):

    • Children who are on the directly certified list sent to your facility by the State Department of Education.

    • Children who are documented as migrant, runaway, or homeless


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Confirmation Review (Pg 70-71 Part 8 G)

  • Once all applications are picked for the sample size, an LEA official, must review each of the applications to ensure the initial determination is accurate.

  • This requirement is waived if:

    • Technology demonstrates high level of accuracy in processing.

    • Already doing a confirmation review on 100% of applications.


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Results from Confirmation Review

  • No change

    • verifies the application

  • From reduced to free status

    • Makes the increased benefits available immediately

    • Notifies the household of change

    • Verifies the application


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Results from Confirmation Review

  • From free to reduced status

    • Do not change the child’s status at this time

    • Continue with verification process

  • From free or reduced to paid status

    • Immediately sends the household a notice of adverse action

    • Does not verify the application

    • Selects another application for verification

    • Follows the confirmation review procedures for the new application selected.



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Letters to household for Verification Must Include: (Pg 72)

  • Household to submit income documentation.

  • Type of acceptable income documentation

  • Must provide social security number for EACH adult household member or indicate that the household member does not possess one (Income applications only). An adult member is anyone who is 21 years of age or older.


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Letters to household for Verification Must Include:

  • Deadline for information to be submitted before benefits are discontinued.

  • The Privacy Act and Non-Discrimination Statement

  • Include an approval official’s phone number that households can reach with no charge to them (local, toll free, or collect).


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Verification Timeframe

  • Results in higher benefits Pg 75

    • Implemented no later than 3 operating days

    • Such as:

      • New application results in higher benefits

      • Review of application by a 2nd party reviewer results in higher benefits

      • Verify for cause results in higher benefits


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Verification Timeframe

  • Results in reduced or terminated benefits Pg 76

    • Household must be given 10 calendar days’ written notice of change

      • First day of notice period is the day the notice is sent

    • Such as:

      • New application results in lower benefits

      • Review of application by a 2nd party reviewer results in lower benefits

      • Verify for cause results in lower benefits