Whether or not the school participates in the Community Eligibility Provision Program, Direct Certification can also be used to certify students as eligible for the free meal program. Direct Certification is a process by which a file of eligible children is provided to MDE by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and is matched to MARSS enrollment records. The enrolling district needs to verify that the student on the Direct Certification list is the same student who is enrolled in the school. If they are the same student, the student can be reported on MARSS as eligible for the free meal program – Economic Status 2. Direct Certification can occur in two ways:
•Schools with a food service program have access to a Direct Certification report through FNS. This is a list of the potentially matched students.
•All public schools have a warning message on the fall MARSS edit that identifies students who are enrolled in the district who may also be matched to the DHS list.
There may be students who are identified on MARSS warning #364 who are not on the district’s/charter school’s Direct Certification list. The MARSS Error Report may be more current than the CLiCS Direct Certification list because the MARSS WES edit looks for a new DHS file nightly. Direct Certification reports are run less frequently. Also, the MARSS WES edit looks for students where ever they were reported as enrolled on the Fall MARSS files while the Direct Certification list looks for the student only where they were most recently enrolled. The lists serve two, slightly different purposes.
Students directly certified do not need to have an Application for Educational Benefits or an Alternate Application for Educational Benefits on file. For audit purposes, keep a copy of all applications and Direct Certifications used to report students on MARSS as eligible for the free or reduced-price meal program.