SNP Verification

Verification is the confirmation of students’ eligibility for free and reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). Below are key points regarding verification requirements:

  • It is only required when eligibility is determined through the application process, not through direct certification conducted with an assistance program or officials or agencies that documented other source categorical eligibility.
  • It must include either confirmation of income eligibility or confirmation that the child or any member of the household is receiving assistance under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or that a child is other categorically eligible including homeless, migrant, runaway, Head Start/Even Start and foster care.
  • It may include confirmation of any other information required on the application, such as household size.

Verification efforts are not required for the following:

  • Children who have been certified under direct certification procedures including children documented as eligible migrant, runaway, homeless children, foster children, and children participating in Head Start/Even Start;
  • Children in Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs), except for applications for any non-residential students attending the institution;
    • Applications above are not included in the sample pool
  • Schools participating in only the Special Milk Program (SMP);
  • Schools where all children are served with no separate charge for food service and no special cash assistance is claimed (i.e., non-pricing programs claiming only the paid rate of reimbursement); and
  • Local educational agencies (LEAs) where all schools participate in Provisions 1, 2, 3, or community eligibility provision (CEP) except in those years in which applications are taken for all students in attendance (i.e., the base year of CEP).

Annually, each LEA must verify the eligibility of children from a sample of household applications approved for free and reduced price meal benefits for that school year. The LEA may begin verification once the application approval process for the current school year is underway and there are approved applications on file.

Verification begins October 1 and must be completed no later than November 15 of each school year.  The sample size must be based on the October 1 sample pool.  The sample pool uses the total number of approved applications on file as of October 1 of the current school year. Once the sample pool is determined, the LEA calculates the sample size (the number of applications that must be verified). When calculating the sample size, all fractions or decimals are rounded up to the nearest whole number. At least one application must be verified. With the exception of verification for cause, LEAs must not verify more than or less than the standard sample size or the alternate sample size (when used) and must not verify all (100% of) applications. Below is the step-by-step process for verification:

  1. Determine verification method (one method is conducted).

LEAs with a non-response rate of 20% or greater from the previous year, must select the standard method of verification:

  • Standard: 3% of applications on file as of October 1 selected from error prone (applications within $100 per month of the applicable Income Eligibility Guideline).  

Total applications approved ____ x .03 = ____ rounded up to ____ = total number of applications to verify from error prone income applications

LEAs with a non-response rate of less than 20% from the previous year, may select one verification method from the following:

  • Alternate one: 3% of all approved applications by the LEA for the school year, as of October 1, selected at random.

Total applications approved ____ x .03 = ____ rounded up to ____ = total number of applications to verify using a random selection method from all active free and reduced applications.


  • Alternate two: 1% of the total number of approved applications by the LEA as of October 1 of the school year selected from error prone plus 1/2% of categorically eligible approved applications.

Total applications approved ____ x .01 = ____ rounded up to ____ = total number of applications to verify from error prone income applications.


Total categorical applications ____ X .005 = ____ rounded up to ___ = total number of applications to verify from applications approved based on categorical eligibility. (SNAP or TANF)

Combined to equal the total number of applications to verify.

  1. Calculate the sample size for the method as of October 1.
  2. Pull samples from all approved applications, and save all documentation.
  3. Review selected applications.
    • Applications may be replaced when the LEA believes that the household would be unable to satisfactorily respond.
    • LEA may replace up to 5% of selected applications.
    • Select a replacement application with same method used originally.
  4. Conduct a confirmation review; preliminary review of applications for accuracy.
    • Completed by a different person than who approved the application(s).
    • Waived if technology determined initial eligibility with high level of accuracy.
    • Correct eligibility determination if error is found.
      • Notify the household of change (10 day notice) using the letter of verification results. The household may reapply with income documentation.
      • If the household is still eligible for benefits, continue with verification.
      • If the household is no longer eligible for benefits, remove from verification and replace with similar type application.
  5. Use “Direct Verification” (DV).
    • Check if any applications are on the direct certification (DC) list. If an application is found, then verification for that application is complete.
    • Download the Medicaid list from the Tennessee Meal Accounting and Claiming (TMAC) website. If the information obtained through direct verification verifies the eligibility status, no additional verification is required.
    • If unable to verify the household, a written notification of verification selection will be sent by the LEA to the household.
    • The DV list is used for verification only. It is not used for eligibility determination or to change current status.
  6. Notify the households of selection by sending written notification.
    • Use the notification of selection letter found in the SNP Waivers/Forms section informing households of their responsibility to submit documentation of their eligibility and the timelines for submitting information.
    • Include a toll free contact phone number for the parents/guardians needing assistance.
    • Include the correct non-discrimination statement on the letter.
  7. Verify household information.
    • Review the submitted verification information from each household to determine the level of benefits.
    • If the household does not respond by the date specified in the notification of selection letter, at least one documented follow-up attempt is required via phone, email, letter or personal contact.
    • File and retain verification documentation provided by the households.
    • If the household requests no benefits, this is a response, and verification is complete. Document the request.
  8. Notify households of verification results.
    • If the verification results in higher benefits or no change in benefits, the household can be notified in person, by telephone or in writing.
    • If the verification results in reduced or terminated benefits, the notification must be in writing. The letter of verification results is provided in the SNP Waivers/Forms section. Households must be given 10 calendar days to appeal.
  9. Completion
    • Verification is complete when a household’s eligibility for the approved level of benefit is confirmed, changed to a higher level, or the household is sent a letter reducing or terminating benefits no later than November 15.
      • At least one follow-up attempt must be made by the LEA when the household does not adequately respond. This attempt may be in writing (including email) or by telephone.

The LEA must complete the “Verification Report” in TMAC by December 15.  The LEA must retain all documentation for a minimum of three years after the final claim is submitted for the fiscal year for which they pertain.

Systems have an obligation to verify all questionable applications. Such verification efforts cannot delay the approval of applications. If an application is complete and indicates that the child is eligible for free or reduced price benefits, the application must be approved. Only after the determination of eligibility has been made can the LEA begin the verification process.

The same process is used for verification for cause as yearly verification.

  • To verify an approved application for cause, systems must send the household a notification of selection letter (same letter used for yearly verification).
  • The notification of selection letter may be sent at the same time as the eligibility notification letter.      
  • Any household that fails to submit verification information that does not support the initial determination of eligibility must be sent a letter of verification results (notice of adverse action).

Verification Report for Districtwide Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

If the entire district is operating CEP, verification is not conducted, but the following sections of the verification report must be completed:

  • General Information (top of report)
  • Section 1
  • Section 2
  • Section 3, check box 3-1
  • Section 5, check box 5-1

Verification Report for partial CEP Districts

If only part of the district is operating CEP, verification must be conducted on the schools not operating CEP. All sections of the report will be completed.

  • General Information (top of report)
  • Section 1
  • Section 2, complete 2-3
  • Section 3, report students from non-CEP schools only
  • Section 4
  • Section 5

Verification Report for Non-CEP Districts

If the district is not operating CEP, verification is conducted for all schools and the following sections of the verification report must be completed:

  • General Information (top of report)
  • Section 1
  • Section 3
  • Section 4
  • Section 5

For more information on verification, review the Eligibility Manual for School Meals.