With Verification just around the corner, there's a number of things you and your staff can do in your Free & Reduced software to make this process even smoother this school year. In working with our in-house Free & Reduced experts, we've come up with 5 things every district should do now to prepare for the start of Verification:
1. Import your Directly Certified (DC) students
Even if you've already completed this process earlier in the school year, the list of qualifying students can change periodically, making it important to repeat this process from time-to-time. It's especially important to do this before you start your Verification process because it may move some students that were previously on an application to DC status. As a result, your Verification selection pool will be smaller and the number of apps to verify might also be smaller. Once you acquire a new file from your state, work with your vendor to get these imported.
2. Extend eligibility benefits to siblings as needed
Run a household match report to identify potential students who might be eligible for free and reduced benefits as a result of their other siblings. Most free & reduced solutions offer this type of report. Use your best judgment to determine when to extend benefits and when not to in accordance with state and federal guidelines.
3. Review categorically eligible applications
Check your application totals to verify that all categorically eligible applications were intended to be entered as applications rather than Directly Certified. This helps to improve the accuracy of the pool of applications that may need to be verified.
4. Update verification letters
Review all of the Verification notice and result letters in your Free & Reduced program and make any necessary formatting or wording changes. Check with your state to see if they offer any letter templates you can use as a reference.
5. Follow your free & reduced software vendors instructions
I know this step seems like a no-brainer, but trust me. If there's ever a time when reading through your vendor's Verification instructions counts, this is one of those times. These instructions usually offer explicit time-sensitive steps detailing when specific actions need to occur such as backing up your data or printing key reports.
That's it! Now you're ready to begin the Verification process. If you have any specific questions regarding Verification guidelines and regulations, always check with your state first.