How to Determine If I Am Low or High Income

Other than the poverty level, there is no set standard for what is considered low or high income. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publishes poverty level guidelines and figures that many other government and private agencies use. However, for median and low-income levels, the IRS, government agencies or states may use slightly different figures. Many of these organizations base their figures on U.S. census statistics. Such information is used to determine how to fund social programs, such as low-income housing, college financial aid and government-assisted loans.


Step 1

Go to the U.S. Department of Education website. Click on the "Office of Postsecondary Education Current-Year Low-Income Levels" page to find a list of income levels that are considered at or below the poverty level, or low income.

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Step 2

Find the number on the chart that corresponds to the number of people in your family and the state in which you live. For example, a family of five living in any of the 48 contiguous states in 2010 and making a household income of $38,685 or less is considered below the poverty line.


Step 3

Go to the U.S. Census Bureau website if you make more than the poverty or low-income level. Click on the "Income" page to view the median income for your state categorized by family size. These charts show the median household income within a range for each state. If you fall within this range for your state, then you are considered middle income. Higher than this range would be high income.

Step 4

Navigate to your state's official website and look for data on income levels. Some states may give poverty and median income levels on their websites broken down by county.