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AFI Resource Guide: Participant Eligibility and Selection

Published: September 22, 2017
Assets for Independence (AFI)
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Tools

Information on AFI program participant eligibility requirements and selection by grantees is provided below. You may also be interested in Resources for Enrolling and Supporting AFI Participants.

Statutory Eligibility Requirements

Grantees are required to determine whether prospective participants meet the federal eligibility requirements for participation in the AFI project prior to enrollment in the project. Section 408 of the AFI Act limits eligibility for participation in AFI-funded projects as follows:

1. Any individual who is a member of a household that is eligible for assistance under their state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program established under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 601 et seq.).

2. Any individual who is a member of a household that meets both of the following requirements:

  • Income Test - The adjusted gross income of the household is equal to or less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line (based on the annual HHS Poverty Guidelines) or the earned income amount described in section 32 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, i.e., the federal Earned Income Tax Credit limits, (taking into account the size of the household).
  • Net Worth Test - The net worth of the household, as of the end of the calendar year preceding the determination of eligibility, does not exceed $10,000. For purposes of determining the net worth of a household, grantees calculate the aggregate market value of all assets that are owned in whole or in part by any member of the household, excluding the primary dwelling unit and one motor vehicle owned by a member of the household, and then subtract the obligations or debts of any member of the household.

There are no federal requirements how the verification of participant eligibility for the AFI program should be documented.  Grantees have discretion in how they document their verification of eligibility, including what documentation they require from prospective participants.  If asked, grantees must be able to demonstrate the methodology used to determine AFI program eligibility.  NOTE: Federal regulations require that grantee organizations maintain grant records for three years from the date of submission of the final Federal Financial Report (SF-425), which is due no later than 90 days after the grant end date. Your organization may have additional records management requirements.

Below are some examples of documentation grantees could use to verify the eligibility of prospective participants. Grantees may use documentation not listed here, provided that they can demonstrate how AFI program eligibility was verified.

Household eligible for state TANF: Information from the state TANF program, a grantee worksheet showing how it was determined that the household is eligible for state TANF, etc.

Household adjusted gross income: Recent tax documents; recent pay stubs/reports; recent business income files; a grantee worksheet showing how household adjusted gross income was calculated; etc.

Household net worth: For verifying assets: bank statements, retirement or investment statements, a signed statement from the individual, etc.  For verifying debts: a credit report, loan statements, a signed statement from the individual, etc.

Selection of Participants by Grantees

Sec. 409 of the AFI Act states that, from the pool of individuals eligible to participate in AFI, a grantee shall select the individuals that the grantee determines to be best suited to participate, including having the ability to make earned income deposits which the grantee can match with federal and non-federal project funds. Additional factors that grantees may consider with regard to selection of participants include individuals’ readiness for asset purchase, the geographic service area of the project, requirements of their non-federal funder (such as attending a specific college or university), and other project features (such as only offering business IDAs).

Grantees may NOT apply selection criteria which violate federal civil rights law. AFI grantees must ensure equal access without regard to a person’s race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and religion. Additional information about compliance with federal civil rights law can be found at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/administrative-and-national-policy-requirement....


  • AFI Information Memorandum 2017-02 “Clarification on Eligibility Determination and Participant Selection” – This information memorandum (IM) provides clarification for AFI grantees on key aspects of eligibility determination and participant selection for AFI program grantees. Specifically, the IM addresses the definition of household in the AFI Act, the definition of “state” with regard to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs, and non-discrimination in participant selection.
  • Participant Eligibility Workbook - This workbook (available for download below in Excel format) is a tool for AFI grantees. It has been formatted to guide users through the AFI Act participant eligibility requirements.
  • Q & A about Participant Eligibility and Selection - This document (available for download below) provides answers to some common questions from AFI grantees about participant eligibility and selection.
Last Reviewed: June 18, 2019