Alternative Income Forms: Understanding What They Are, Why They're Important, & How They're Collected

Alternative income forms are completed by families in replacement of free and reduced-price meal applications when a school or district in certain states utilizes the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP allows schools to serve all students breakfast and lunch at no cost without collecting meal applications from families. Nineteen states require schools that elect CEP to collect alternative income forms. States that require collection of alternative income forms include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Alternative income forms are not used to certify students for free or reduced-priced meals but are instead used for programs and funding sources that previously relied on meal application data for other purposes (e.g., assessing a school’s poverty level for technology funding or college application discounts). They are often simpler to complete when compared to meal applications.

This resource goes into detail about what alternative income forms are, why they are important, and how they are collected.