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Direct Certification

The Direct Certification Report is available for all school districts, including nonpublic schools through the Michigan Student Data System (MSDS). The Direct Certification Report matches student enrollment data that Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) upload to the MSDS with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid participant data, as well as Foster Children data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  

Students on the Direct Certification Report are automatically certified as eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. Each LEA must notify households with matched students that they are eligible for free school meals and no further application is necessary. Households directly certified for reduced-price meals should be informed that they may qualify for free meals based on household size and income and be provided with the application materials. If the household wants to decline the free or reduced-price school meals benefit, they must notify the school.

Frequently Asked Questions for Direct Certification Requirements for Public and Non-public Schools Participating in the School Nutrition Programs in School Year 2022-2023

Direct Certification Free Approval

Medicaid Direct Certification Reduced-Price Approval

The Direct Certification Report must be pulled at a minimum of three times during the school year: 

  • At or around the beginning of the school year;

  • Three months after the initial effort; and

  • Six months after the initial effort.

The Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) will refresh the Direct Certification report bi-weekly throughout the school year. MDE encourages schools to pull the Direct Certification as it is available to ensure all students eligible are receiving proper meal benefits. The Direct Certification refresh dates are available on the CEPI Calendar Page.

The Direct Certification Report format in the MSDS has a column called "Eligibility Category" to easily identify a student certified via Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (S), Temporary Aid for Needy Families (T), foster child (F), Medicaid free (M), or Medicaid reduced (R). Each student will only have one designation in this column. For example, if a student is a foster child and receives SNAP, the designation will be for SNAP. For those students certified via SNAP, TANF, Medicaid free or Medicaid reduced, eligibility can be extended to additional children in a household. 

There is an "Exit Date" column that will be populated for any student the district reports as exited. This change will help users identify and filter out students who were enrolled in the district and subsequently left during the school year.

Direct Certification for Nonpublic Schools

Before the Direct Certification Report is accessible, nonpublic schools participating in the NSLP must upload student enrollment data to the MSDS. For more detailed instruction on how to upload nonpublic school student enrollment, CEPI has the Direct Certification Report User's Guide - Nonpublic Schools.

Questions regarding the technical MSDS computer applications may be directed to CEPI Customer Support by e-mail to cepi@michigan.gov  or phone 517-335-0505 and select option "3."