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Economically Disadvantaged Status

The Economically Disadvantaged Status is reported separately from a student's Food Services Eligibility

Economically Disadvantaged Status: WISEdata

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An economically disadvantaged student is one who is

  • identified by  Direct Certification (only if participating in the National School Lunch Program) OR  
  • a member of a household that meets the income eligibility guidelines for free or reduced-price meals (less than or equal to 185 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines) under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) OR  
  • identified by an alternate mechanism, such as the alternate household income form.

Every student in every grade in every school must be queried each year to find economically disadvantaged (ED) status. All students, including those enrolled in a school participating in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) or Provision 2, must be individually evaluated every school year to determine ED status. ED status must be reported for all students regardless of whether or not the school participates in the National School Lunch Program. 

For WISEdata users reviewing a student's economically disadvantaged status, if during the school year, a student transfers from District A to District B and the student’s economic disadvantage status changes (District A = not economically disadvantaged; District B= economically disadvantaged), the student’s current status will display for District A, not the previous value.

Status Code
Economically Disadvantaged Yes
Not Economically Disadvantaged No

How the DPI Economically Disadvantaged Type is Determined

The Economically Disadvantaged (ED) Type is determined from a two-part indicator in WISEdata from data sent by the district’s student information system (SIS). DPI combines both parts and then determines the ED type.

  1. Part 1 of the indicator is the Food Services Eligibility field. This field indicates what the student’s Free and Reduced Price Lunch status is under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Options are Full-price lunch, Reduced-priced lunch, Free lunch, or Unknown. Unknown would be used by schools that are not participating in the NSLP.
  2. Part 2 of the indicator is the Economically Disadvantaged Status of the student (Yes or No). This can be based on a variety of sources, but it is most commonly based on a student’s Direct Certification status gathered by the district as their role as a School Food Authority (SFA) under the NSLP.
Part 1: Food Services Eligibility Part 2: Economically Disadvantaged Status Result: Economically Disadvantaged Type (FRAN)
Free Lunch




F: Eligible for Free Lunch
Reduced-Price Lunch R: Eligible for Reduced-Price Lunch
Full-Price Lunch A: Economic Disadvantaged - Alt Mechanism
Unknown A: Economic Disadvantaged - Alt Mechanism
Free Lunch






N: Not Economically Disadvantaged

Reduced-Price Lunch
Full-Price Lunch



USES: Economically Disadvantaged Status codes are used for disaggregated reporting and accountability purposes, the Education Data Exchange Network (EDEN), E-rate, and certain child nutrition program purposes. This data element is used to disaggregate attendance, retention, and dropout data by economic status. Economically disadvantaged status indicators were included in Pre-ID files for statewide testing and used for disaggregated reporting of test results and participation. Disaggregated dropout rates will be used to calculate disaggregated four-year cohort dropout rates, which will, in turn, be used in disaggregating high school completion rates. 

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Demographic, All     *Note, all data elements flow into WISEdata at all times, not only during specified collection snapshots.

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Related Validations & Data Elements

6370, WISEid, Homeless Status, Migrant Status, Food Services Eligibility                                                                                                 

FAQs, Details, and Points to Note


  1. Food Services Eligibility: For information regarding eligibility and reporting requirements for this separate data element, see the Food Services Eligibility page.
  2. Direct Certification: Direct Certification (DC) promotes participation in School Meals Programs by simplifying access to free meals for foster children and students in households with lower incomes. DC is manually initiated by Districts/School Food Authorities (SFA). A district/SFA uploaded student file is electronically matched to a state database of children in families enrolled in FoodShare, W-2 cash benefits, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) (new 2017-18), Medicaid (new 2017-18), or the foster care system. Each School Food Authority (SFA) is able to run DC as often as it wants. SFAs that do not participate in School Lunch Programs are not allowed to use direct certification by law.
  3. Alternative Mechanism for Reporting Economic Disadvantage: Student is not covered by the descriptions of F or R above, but other evidence indicates that the student's household income is at or below the income eligibility guidelines for reduced-price meals under NSLP. Participation in need-based programs is acceptable evidence of economically disadvantaged status if need is based on a household income standard at or below the income eligibility guidelines for reduced-price lunch under NSLP. See also the Alternate Household Income form, possible alternative measures of poverty, and the relationship to the annual NSLP application cycle.
  4. Economically Disadvantaged Status/Food Services Eligibility for Choice Schools: Choice schools, like public schools, are expected to record Economically Disadvantaged Status separate from Food Service Eligibility and report this information to WISEdata.
    • Economically Disadvantaged (ED) Status: Submitted as Yes/True or No/False.
    • Steps a Choice School may take to determine ED Status for WISEdata purposes:
      • Complete the  Direct Certification process. All students identified by Direct Certification should be reported with True for ED Status and Free for FS Eligibility.
      • For schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, the USDA household application may be gathered from families. All students within a household with an approved application for the current school year should be reported as True for ED Status. 
      • Schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2 must gather the economic information of all students every year. The alternate household income form may be used for students not returned by Direct Certification. This form is available in English, Spanish, and Hmong. A student identified as economically disadvantaged by this form should be reported as True for ED Status and Unknown for FS Eligibility.
      • Alternate measures of poverty may also be used. A student identified by such measures should be reported as True for ED Status and Unknown for FS Eligibility.
  5. Changes in Status: Economically Disadvantaged Status is determined as of a specific date. Codes provided should be based on the most accurate information available during the WISEdata submission period about the student's economically disadvantaged status on that date. For example, a student may have an "N" code for snapshot Count Date purposes and an "F" or "R" code in Year End snapshot record(s) for the same school term. This may happen if:
    • For WISEdata Count Date records, the dates are the Third Friday of September and Oct. 1.
    • The student's household submits an NSLP application later in the school term due to changes in economic need after the count date and grace period, or
    • A student is documented to be homeless/migrant/runaway after the count date and grace period.
  6. CEP Schools: The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) permits eligible schools, groups of schools, or districts to provide meal service to all students at no charge, regardless of economic status, while reducing burden at the household and local levels by eliminating the need to obtain eligibility data from families through a separate collection. It's important to note, however, that economically disadvantaged and free and reduced lunch are two separate data fields in WISEdata. A student qualifying with a value for one field does not guarantee the other is also true. The student attending a school in the CEP who is not free or reduced for meals should be marked as Free but should be marked as NOT economically disadvantaged. 
    • Districts that include non-CEP and CEP schools are encouraged to continue to use the USDA household application form so that if a student moves from a CEP to non-CEP school, the student will remain eligible for free or reduced price lunch service at the non-CEP school.
  7. K4 and PK Students: Every student in every grade in every school, even K4 and PK students, should be evaluated each year to find economically disadvantaged status. If you do not collect FRL data for these students, you can still obtain economic data using the Alternate Household Income form.
  8. Homeless, Migrant, and Runaway Status: The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) both assume that homeless, migrant, and runaway students are economically disadvantaged. Once a student is documented as a homeless, migrant, or runaway student, free lunch eligibility is generally effective for the remainder of the school term. However, if a student moves from one district to another during the school term, the receiving district must have appropriate documentation to support the eligibility. If the sending district does not share documentation with the receiving district, the receiving district needs to document the student's status. 
  9. NSLP-Verified Data: Approved NSLP applications or direct certification for individual students must be current to be used as the basis for F or R codes. Most schools collect the NSLP applications or verify Direct Certification annually. Schools that use F and R codes for some students may or may not also use code A for other students.
  10. Alternative Provisions to NSLP-Verified Data: Schools participating in the NSLP under the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2 are not subject to the annual application or Direct Certification requirements, so student/household level income data may not be available from these sources. In these cases, schools are expected to use codes A and N for their students, as appropriate, with A codes based on the Alternate Household Income Form (refer to the Title I and Other Funding Programs section) or alternative evidence of individual student/household income level. CEP and Provision 2 schools may use F or R codes for students if the relevant evidence is available at the student level (e.g., through the automated direct certification process). Student-level data about economically disadvantaged status is required to meet a wide range of disaggregated reporting mandates, which are, in turn, used to ensure that all students especially economically disadvantaged students are making progress. All schools, including schools participating in the NSLP under CEP or Provision 2, are covered by this requirement.
  11. E-rate: The E-rate is a federal program funded from "universal service" assessments made on consumers' telephone bills, including telecommunication services, internet access, and internal network connections.The program is under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is managed by the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD). Wisconsin schools and libraries get about $25 million annually from this program in the form of 20 percent to 90 percent in discounts, for discounts are based on the number of students in poverty as a percentage of students enrolled. The higher the percentage, the higher the discount. DPI calculates percentages based on counts of students with Economically Disadvantaged Type codes F and R and WISEdata count date enrollment. While schools can also use other available data to determine their E-rate discount, DPI does not verify to the SLD data using any other alternative mechanisms (code A).
  12. Uses by the School and Community Nutrition Team: The DPI School and Community Nutrition Team uses the numbers of students with Economically Disadvantaged Type codes F and R and WISEdata count date enrollment 
    • to qualify eligible sites for participation in the Summer Food Service Program,
    • to qualify eligible centers/sites for participation in the after school snack component of the Child and Adult Care Food Program,
    • to qualify eligible family day care home providers for higher rates of meal reimbursement under the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and
    • to qualify eligible school buildings for participation in the after school snack component of the National School Lunch Program.
    • All the above are USDA child nutrition programs administered in WI by DPI.
  13. Students in Virtual Schools: Students attending a virtual school still need to have their economically disadvantaged status reported. Although they may not sit in a physical building or receive free lunch, they are not exempt because they still receive educational services. Report economic status for ALL students.

Economically Disadvantaged Type Technical Rule Logic

When districts and schools send this information to DPI, it is done via the two data elements identified in the table above, Food Services Eligibility and Economically Disadvantaged Status.

The Ed-Fi ODS API documentation describes the data elements as:

  • economic Disadvantaged (eD) (Boolean, optional): An indication of inadequate financial condition of an individual's family, as determined by family income, number of family members/dependents, participation in public assistance programs, and/or other characteristics considered relevant by federal, state, and local policy.
  • school Food Services Eligibility Descriptor (sFSED): Free, Reduced, Unknown, Full-priced & economic Disadvantaged: Boolean

(1) If (Ed-Fi) eD = Y and sFSED = Free, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'F'.

(2) If (Ed-Fi) eD = Y and sFSED = Reduced, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'R'.

(3) If (Ed-Fi) eD = Y and sFSED = Full-Priced, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'A'.

(4) If (Ed-Fi) eD = Y and sFSED = Unknown, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'A'.

(5) If (Ed-Fi) eD = N and sFSED is not null, then (coll) econ_disadvantaged_type = 'N'.


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