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What is the Federal Poverty Level, Anyway?

What is the Federal Poverty Level, Anyway?

Most low income programs determine your eligibility using the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). If you’ve ever wondered what the federal poverty level is or how it’s calculated, we have answers!


What is the Federal Poverty Level?

The FPL is actually called the Federal Poverty Guideline. It’s a measurement of income that is created every year by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


The FPL is used to determine your eligibility for many important programs, including:

Don’t confuse the federal poverty level with the poverty threshold, though. They aren’t the same. The Census Bureau calculated the poverty threshold to determine census estimates (such as how many Americans are living in poverty).


How is the Federal Poverty Level calculated? 

The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is based on how much a family needs to earn in order to cover basic necessities, such as housing, food and utilities. Every year, the number is adjusted for inflation to reflect the actual cost of living.

Because the cost of living varies so drastically in Alaska and Hawaii, they have separate Federal Poverty Levels than the remaining 48 states.

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What is the Federal Poverty Level for this year?

For 2019, the Federal Poverty Level for the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia is:

Household Size100%125%150%175%200%
1 Person$12,880$16,100$13,320$22,540$25,760
2 People$17,420$21,775$26,130$30,485$34,480
3 People$21,960$27,450$32,940$38,430$43,920
4 People$26,500$33,125$39,750$46,375$53,000
5 People$31,040$38,800$46,560$54,320$62,080
6 People$35,580$44,475$53,370$62,265$71,160
7 People$40,120$50,150$60,180$70,210$80,240
8 People$44,660$55,825$66,990$78,155$89,320
Add $4,540 for each additional person

In Alaska, the Federal Poverty Level is:

Household Size100%125%150%175%200%
1 Person$16,090$20,113$24,135$28,158$32,180
2 People$21,770$27,213$32,655$38,098$43,540
3 People$27,450$34,313$41,175$48,038$54,900
4 People$33,130$41,413$49,695$57,978$66,260
5 People$38,810$48,513$58,215$67,918$77,620
6 People$44,490$55,613$66,735$77,8580$88,980
7 People$50,170$62,713$75,255$87,798$100,340
8 People$55,850$69,813$83,775$97,738$111,700
Add $5,680 for each additional person.

In Hawaii, the Federal Poverty Level is:


Household Size100%125%150%175%200%
1 Person$14,820$18,525$22,230$25,935$29,640
2 People$20,040$25,050$30,060$35,070$40,080
3 People$25,260$31,575$37,890$44,205$50,520
4 People$30,480$38,100$45,720$53,340$60,960
5 People$35,700$44,625$53,550$62,475$71,400
6 People$40,920$51,150$61,380$71,610$81,840
7 People$46,140$57,675$69,210$80,745$92,280
8 People$51,360$64,200$77,040$89,800$102,720
Add$5,220 for each additional person.

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Have too much month at the end of your money? Me too - and that's how Low Income Relief got started. I have over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Over the years, I've worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. My work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today,,, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah), The Chronicle (Centralia, WA) and others. At Low Income Relief, I use my professional research and reporting experience to help low income families save money and make ends meet. It's been my full-time job since 2016, and it's truly an honor to serve you.


Monday 7th of September 2020

Does any cable companies offer a lower priced cable for low incomes? My cable bill is the most expensive bill i have for my income. Its really crazy.. Thank you for your reply.

Hannah Benge

Saturday 19th of September 2020

This is a good place to check: I hope this helps! -Hannah


Monday 7th of September 2020

I have a question. The low priced internet. That is just like wifi right? You can have access to internet but not any cable channels? So u can use a Roku to watch channels ??

Hannah Benge

Friday 11th of September 2020

Yes, this would be for wifi. So any service that just uses the internet should work. - Hannah

Cheryl P Brewer

Friday 28th of July 2017

What a fabulous, and much needed resource!!! Thank you, Nicole!


Friday 28th of July 2017

You're very welcome! =D