If you would like to determine eligibility, you have several options, all basically designed to figure out which students’ families are within 185% of federal poverty guidelines. The following programs have eligibility guidelines that meet or exceed NSLP guidelines, and therefore if a family is eligible for one of them, they can be counted towards NSLP eligibility.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – only if family income is at or below the income guidelines for NSLP
- Need-based tuition assistance programs that rely on income guidelines that meet or exceed NSLP
- Food Stamps
- Supplementary Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8) – a federal housing assistance program administered by HUD
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
If you don’t know the income or low-income program participation of the families in your school, you have two methods to gather this data.
1) School personnel can individually identify students that are not NSLP participants, but are eligible, via a sibling match. For example, if a student in the high school does not participate in NSLP, but their younger sibling does, the older student can be counted towards NSLP eligibility as well.
2) School personnel can conduct a survey of that school’s families. This method is ideal for a non-public school or a school that does not participate in NSLP. A sample survey cover letter and survey are available for download. The sample surveys and cover letters should be updated with the most recent NSLP eligibility guidelines and program year information.
- The survey must be sent to all families whose children attend the school.
- They must attain a return rate of 50% in order to project a poverty rate for all students in the school, based on surveys returned.
- The survey must collect the following information:
- Name and Address of family
- Name and Grade level of each child in family
- Family size
- Income range of parents and/or participation in need-based programs
- Specific income not required and probably should not be collected
If you have conducted a survey in the past, those results may be used for 2 years since the survey was done. Be careful to keep all documentation related to surveys or other means of calculating true eligibility, as PIA will require that much of the documentation be submitted in order for them to validate its accuracy.
Unacceptable Methods of Eligibility Determination
- Feeder Schools Method
- Non-Random Samples
- Title 1 Eligibility
- Principal’s Estimate