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.

What is the Federal Poverty Level for this year?

For 2017, the Federal Poverty Level for the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia is:

Household Size100%125%150%175%200%
1 person$12,060$15,075$18,090$21,105$24,120
2 people$16,240$20,300$24,360$28,420$32,460
3 people$20,420$25,525$30,630$35,735$40,840
4 people $24,600$30,750$36,900$43,050$49,200
5 people$28,780$35,975$43,170$50,365$57,560
6 people$32,960$41,200$49,440$57,680$65,920
7 people$27,140$33,925$40,710$47,495$54,280
8 people$41,320$51,650$61,980$72,310$82,640

Add $4,180 per additional person

In Alaska, the Federal Poverty Level is:

Household Size100%125%150%175%200%
1 person$15,060$18,825$22,590$26,355$30,120
2 people$20,290$25,362$30,435$35,508$40,580
3 people$25,520$31,900$38,280$44,660$51,040
4 people$30,750$38,437$46,125$53,812$61,500
5 people$35,980$44,975$53,970$62,965$71,960
6 people$41,210$51,512$61,815$72,117$82,420
7 people$46,440$58,050$69,660$81,270$92,880
8 people$51,670$64,587$77,505$90,422$103,340

For each additional family member, add $5,230!

In Hawaii, the Federal Poverty Level is:

Household Size100%125%150%175%200%
1 person$13,860$17,325$20,790$24,255$27,720
2 people$18,670$23,337$28,005$32,672$37,340
3 people$23,480$29,350$35,220$41,090$46,960
4 people$28,290$35,362$42,435$49,507$56,580
5 people$33,100$41,375$49,650$57,925$66,200
6 people$37,910$47,387$56,865$66,342$75,820
7 people$42,720$53,400$64,080$74,760$85,440
8 people$47,530$59,412$71,295$83,177$95,060

For each additional person, add $4,810.

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  1. Cheryl P Brewer July 28, 2017

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