What is FPIL and how is it calculated?

What is Federal Poverty Income Level (FPIL)?

Also referred to as the Federal Poverty Guidelines, FPIL is one measure of poverty within the United States and is released annually. There is one set of guidelines for the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Alaska and Hawaii each have their own set. FPIL measures a family's annual cash income. That's how it differs from other poverty indicators that measure total wealth, annual consumption, or a subjective assessment of well-being. The Department of Health and Human Services issues the poverty level guidelines each January.

The poverty level determines who can receive federal subsidies or aid. These programs include:

  • Food
  • Medicaid
  • The Affordable Care Act
  • Head Start
  • The National School Lunch Program
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
  • The Children's Health Insurance Program


How is FPIL calculated?

To calculate percentage of poverty level, divide income by the poverty guideline and multiply by 100.

As an example, for 2017, the Federal poverty guideline is an annual income of $24,600 for a family of four. If a family of four has an annual household income of $36,000, the FPIL is 146%.

(36,000/24,600) x (100)= 146

To easily calculate FPIL, for families of other sizes:

  • Add $4,180 for each additional person to calculate for larger families.
  • Subtract $4,180 per person to calculate it for smaller families.


To read more about FPIL, click here.  For a FPIL calculator, click here.

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