What is a Low-Income Designation?
As laid out in the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)’s Chartering and Field of Membership (FOM) Manual, “[a] credit union serving predominantly low-income members may be designated as a low-income credit union.”
More precisely, a majority (50.01%) of a credit union’s membership must qualify as “low-income members,” based on publicly available U.S. Census Bureau data and defined as follows:
Low-income members are those members whose family income is 80% or less than the median family income for the metropolitan area where they live or national metropolitan area, whichever is greater, or those members who earn 80% or less than the total median earnings for individuals for the metropolitan area where they live or national metropolitan area, whichever is greater.
NCUA will use the statewide or national, non-metropolitan area median family income instead of the metropolitan area or national metropolitan area median family income for members living outside a metropolitan area.
To estimate member earnings, the NCUA uses "data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau for the geographic area where the member lives."
Additionally, the distinction covers “members enrolled as students in a college, university, high school, or vocational school.”
A LID is available to any federally chartered credit union meeting the eligibility requirements; for state chartered credit unions, however, access to benefits may vary state-by-state.