Verification

Verification of Applications for Educational Benefits

School Year 2014-15

Local educational agencies (LEAs) that participate in School Nutrition Programs (SNPs) are required to verify a percentage of approved Applications for Educational Benefits at the beginning of each school year by contacting households for confirming information.

− LEAs must complete verification activities for school year (SY) 2014-15 no later than November 15, 2014.

LEAs must report verification results to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) between November 1 and 15, 2014. Information about how to report verification results will be provided prior to November 2014.

Program reimbursements may be delayed if verification activities are not completed and reported to MDE by November 15, 2014.

Additional resources

Verification Training module with slides and notes. This training module is available on the School Nutrition Programs Verification page of the MDE website. View the Verification page.

Verification, Part 9 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Eligibility Manual for School Meals. View the USDA Eligibility Manual for School Meals.

Exemptions from verification

Only the following types of LEAs, which do not collect any Applications for Educational Benefits for school meal purposes, are exempt from conducting verification for school meal purposes:

− Residential child care institutions, with no day school students.
− LEAs with all sites participating in Provision 2 or 3 for lunch (and no sites are conducting a base year for Provision 2 or 3)
− LEAS with all sites participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

LEAs that are exempt from conducting verification still will be required to complete a verification report to MDE in November 2014, to report the school food authority’s (SFA’s) current number of enrolled students.

Verification of Alternate Applications for Educational Benefits: Public LEAs that are exempt from conducting verification of Applications for Educational Benefits for school meal purposes due to participation in Provision 2 or 3 or CEP will be required to conduct verification of Alternate Applications for Educational Benefits as specified by MDE School Finance

Verification procedures

1. Determine the total number of applications that are subject to verification.

Applications for Educational Benefits that are submitted for the current school year by October 1, 2014, are subject to verification.

− Carry-over applications from the prior school year are not counted when determining the number of applications to verify, and may not be selected for verification.

− Direct certifications, and other certifications such as for homeless students and Head Start students, are not subject to verification.

2. Choose a sampling method and select applications for verification.

The LEA selects a sample of approved applications to verify, using one of the authorized sampling methods described below, based on the number of approved applications as of October 1, 2014.

An LEA may begin its verification process prior to October 1, based on the number of applications that are expected to be approved as of October 1. If the verification process is started before October 1, the LEA must check on October 1 whether a sufficient number of applications were selected for verification and, if necessary, select additional applications.

There are three authorized sampling methods described below for selecting applications for verification:

Method 1 – Three Percent Error-Prone

Method 2 – Three Percent Random

Method 3 – One Percent Plus

− Check whether your LEA is on the list of SFAs that are required to use the three percent error-prone sampling method: View the list of School Food Authorities Required to Use Three Percent Error-Prone Sampling Method. If your LEA is on this list, it may only use this method to select applications for verification.
− If your LEA is not on the list, it may use any one of the three sampling methods described below to select applications for verification.

The information in the following three paragraphs applies to all sampling methods.

Rounding: Round up (not standard rounding) to the next whole number of applications when determining the number of applications to verify. For example, an LEA verifying three percent of 105 approved applications must select four applications to verify (105 X 3% = 3.15, rounded up to 4).

Number of applications to verify: LEAs may not verify 100 percent of applications (unless there was only one approved application) and may not choose to verify “extra” applications as part of the required verification sample. Any questionable applications should be verified “for cause” in addition to the required verification sample.

Option to replace selected applications: An LEA may decline to verify, and replace with another application, up to five percent (5%) of the total number of applications selected for verification. Any LEA may decline and replace one application, regardless of the total number of applications being verified. Consider factors such as household stability and communication difficulties when declining and replacing an application. Once the verification process has begun by notification to the household, an application may not be declined and replaced for verification.

Authorized Sampling Methods:

Sampling Method 1 - “Three Percent Error-Prone”

View the list of School Food Authorities Required to Use Three Percent Error-Prone Sampling Method for SY 2014-15. LEAs that are on this list must use the Three Percent Error-Prone sampling method to select applications and also must meet the “additional requirement” described below

The LEA verifies three percent (3%) of the number of current-year applications approved as of October 1, 2014, rounded up (not standard rounding) to the next whole number. Select the required number of applications from error-prone income applications, that is, those applications that are within $100 of monthly income eligibility guidelines. If error-prone applications are insufficient, randomly select additional applications from other (non-error-prone) applications.

Additional requirement: LEAs that are required to conduct three percent error-prone verification for SY 2014-15 are also required to verify any applications submitted by the households that failed to respond to verification in SY 2013-14.

Sampling Method 2 - “Three Percent Random”

The LEA verifies three percent (3%) of the number of current-year applications approved as of October 1, 2014, rounded up (not standard rounding) to the next whole number of applications. Randomly select the required number of applications from all approved applications (both income and categorical eligibility applications).

LEAs that are on the list of School Food Authorities Required to Use Three Percent Error-Prone Sampling Method for SY 2014-15 (see link above) may not use this sampling method.

Sampling Method 3 - “One Percent Plus”

Note: This sampling method usually results in verifying fewer applications than the “three percent” methods (except for LEAs with a small number of applications to verify).

1. The LEA verifies one percent (1%) of the total number of current-year applications (counting both income and case number applications) that were approved as of October 1, 2014, rounded up (not standard rounding) to the next whole number of applications. Select these applications from error-prone income applications, that is, applications that are within $100 of monthly income eligibility guidelines. If there are not enough error-prone applications, randomly select additional applications from other applications.

2. In addition, the LEA verifies one-half percent (0.5%) of case number applications that were approved as of October 1, 2014, rounded up to the next whole number of applications.

LEAs that are on the list of School Food Authorities Required to Use Three Percent Error-Prone Sampling Method for SY 2014-15 (see link above) may not use this sampling method.

3. Confirm that selected applications were approved correctly.

Before proceeding with verification, a confirmation review must be conducted to check that the selected applications were originally approved correctly. The confirmation review must be done by a person other than the person who made the original eligibility determination. View the Requirement to Double-Check Applications Selected for Verification.

Waivers for computerized approval systems: An SFA that uses a computerized system to approve applications may apply for a waiver from the requirement to double check applications. If your SFA uses a computerized approval system and has not already applied to MDE for a waiver, send a completed application for waiver form (Application for Waiver from the Requirement to Double-Check Applications before Conducting Verification) to MDE. Once an application for waiver form is approved by MDE, the SFA is not required to double-check the original approval of applications selected for verification. The application for waiver form is available from the link in the paragraph above (Requirement to Double-Check Applications Selected for Verification).

4. Notify selected households / Receive information from households.

Use the Notice of Selection for Verification Letter (“We Must Check Your Application”) to notify the households that have been selected for verification. Access the Word version. Access the PDF version.

Translated versions of the USDA prototype letter “We need to check your application” are available on the USDA website. View translations of USDA prototype application-verification forms.

− Select the prototype application packet in the desired language (also review the English version for reference).

− The “We need to check your application” letter is toward the end of the packet.

− References to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) on the verification letter should be changed to Minnesota Family Investment Program (“MFIP”) to make the letters specific to Minnesota.

5. Review submitted information / Notify households of results.

Based on the information received from households, or non-response, applications are either:

(1) Confirmed for either free meals or reduced-price meals.

(2) Changed to a different meal benefit, for example changed from free to reduced-price meals. or

(3) Meal benefits are terminated.

Use the Notice of Verification Results letter “We have checked your application” to notify households. Access the Word version. Access the PDF version.

The LEA must notify households whose meal benefits are being terminated. The LEA may notify households that will continue to receive meal benefits.

Translated versions of the USDA prototype letter “We have checked your application” are available on the USDA website. View translations of USDA prototype application-verification forms.

− Select the prototype application packet in the desired language (also review the English version for reference).

− The “We have checked your application” letter is toward the end of the packet.

− References to “TANF” on the verification letter should be changed to “MFIP” to make the letters specific to Minnesota.

Non-Responding Households

Required Follow-Up

Before terminating benefits of a household that has not responded to verification, the LEA must make at least one follow-up attempt to contact the household, for example, by phone. Follow-up efforts and results must be documented.

Reporting Non-Response

When reporting verification results to MDE, a household that has provided a partial or phone response is counted as a response to verification. For example, it is counted as a response if a household states that it will not be providing verification information and that the household should be returned to paid status.

If a household responds after meal benefits have been terminated, that is counted as a “non-response.”

6. Report Verification Results.

Verification results for SY 2014-15 must be reported to MDE between November 1 and November 15, 2014. Instructions for reporting verification results will be provided prior to November 2014.