July 1, when the application period for free and reduced-price school lunches opens, is an important date for schools. Your school’s percentage of free and reduced students can impact your eligibility for state and federal programs as well as grant opportunities. The earlier you get started, the better as it can be a challenge to get responses from eligible families.

In some cases, you may not need an application for every eligible student. “Direct certification” allows you to determine student eligibility based on other state or local agency documentation, such as households eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Minnesota Family Investment Plan (MFIP). Public schools can obtain direct certification reports by logging into CLiCs.

For remaining students, you will need to provide families with the 2020-21 Application for Educational Benefits packet (Word / PDF), which is now available on MDE’s website. These packets must be distributed between July 1 and the first day of school.

(If your school participates in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) or Provision 2 for both breakfast and lunch, please see MDE’s School Finance/MARSS Student Accounting webpage for an alternate application for your program.) 

The packet includes: 

  • A letter to households explaining free or reduced-price school meals benefits. 
  • Application instructions and updated household income guidelines.
  • Application for Educational Benefits form (Word and PDF).

Based on feedback from schools, MDE has slightly revised the application to improve clarity for users. 

Note that if you already have student racial/ethnic information on file, you may remove the civil rights section from the second page of the form.

Start your preparations now and get the applications in the mail on July 1. Reminder emails, phone calls and additional postcard mailings may also be helpful to get a good response from your families.

Links to other related or helpful documents: 


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