By prioritizing and planning, you can live in Boston on your City Year stipend. The information and resources below will help you prepare for your year (or two) of service. The financial circumstances, expectations, and priorities of the Boston corps will vary, so this information is intended to be a guide for you to develop a thoughtful budget for yourself with the most information possible.

Stipend and Health Benefits

Assistance Programs

Education Benefits and Loan Forbearance

Other Considerations

Entertainment on a Budget

Example Budgets


STIPEND AND HEALTH BENEFITS

Stipend: First-year AmeriCorps members earn $629 bi-weekly. Your AmeriCorps stipend is taxable, and the amount of taxes deducted from your paycheck will depend on the number of allowances you claim when you complete Form W-4 (Withholding Allowances) as part of your hiring paperwork. You may change your elections at any time. At a stipend of $629, first-year members claiming only themselves would receive approximately $520 bi-weekly after taxes are deducted. Please note that federal and state income tax withholding rates are subject to change from year to year.

Paychecks are deposited directly into your bank account every other week. Your first paycheck will be issued on Friday, August 25, 2017 and cover your first two weeks of service.

Health Benefits: At any time during your service you may enroll in City Year’s health coverage plan for AmeriCorps members. There is no cost to you to enroll in this health coverage plan, which provides you with basic preventative and routine coverage and is fully compliant with Affordable Care Act requirements.

Many members remain on their parent/guardian’s insurance plan while serving, which may be an option for you. We encourage you to check with that provider network to ensure there are doctors and services in the Boston area which are covered by that plan.

 

ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

Employee Assistance Program: Members facing a personal or work-related issue have access to free and confidential support from licensed consultants and counselors. This benefit is provided to enhance the well-being of City Year members and address any concerns that are a barrier to your health and well-being. EAP’s phone number and website will be provided to you via email in August.

Food Assistance: Massachusetts’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enables those with limited incomes to use an electronic benefits card to purchase nutritious food at neighborhood grocery stores. The level of support you are eligible for varies based on your financial circumstances, sources of income, and living expenses. Our current AmeriCorps members report that they have received up to $190 per month to apply toward their grocery expenses. Specific information about SNAP benefits and the process to apply, as well as eligibility documentation from City Year, will be provided at your in-person registration day.

MBTA Transit: Beginning September 1, through your participation as a Public Safety Ambassador, you will be provided with an MBTA transit pass. Utilizing public transportation to travel in and around Boston can save members a substantial amount of money compared to driving, parking, or using ride-sharing services. City Year highly encourages members to utilize public transportation and to consider transit options when conducting your housing search. More information about passes and the Public Safety Ambassador Program will be shared in August.

 

EDUCATION BENEFITS AND LOAN FORBEARANCE

AmeriCorps Education Award: After successful completion of your service year you will earn a Segal Education Award of $5,815. The award is not paid in cash. It is disbursed directly by the National Service Trust to colleges and/or financial institutions (i.e. it does not go through your bank account) and can go toward pursuing further education or to pay off existing, qualified student loans. Information about your education award will be provided during orientation and again at the end of the service year. Additional information about the Award is available from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The education award is taxed when used and you will be responsible for taxes in your annual income tax filing due in April of the following year. For example, if you use the award in 2018, you will be responsible for paying the taxes in 2019.

AmeriCorps Student Loan Forbearance: During your service, you can request that qualified federal student loans be put into forbearance. Upon successful completion of your term, you may also request the accrued interest be paid by the National Service Trust, the federal administrator for AmeriCorps’ education benefits. Once service has begun and you are enrolled as an AmeriCorps member you will be able to request forbearance of qualified loans in the MyAmeriCorps system.

Federal Loan Repayment Options: The College Cost Reduction and Access Act created two new federal programs for the repayment of federal loans. While these programs are not benefits afforded exclusively to AmeriCorps members, enrollment in either program could benefit current or former members who have significant student debt. The programs are entitled the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and Income-Based Repayment Plan. Note, that enrollment in either of these program renders one ineligible for forbearance while participating with City Year. Additional information about these programs will be provided during orientation.

Education Partnerships: More than 100 colleges and universities nationwide augment the Segal Education Award in some way, including matching your award amount, waived application fees, course credits, or service scholarships. A complete list of matching institutions is online here.

More than 100 leading colleges and universities provide scholarships at the graduate and undergraduate level City Year alumni. Over $3 million dollars of scholarships are exclusively available each year to members interested in a wide range of programs including education, public policy, social work, business, and public health. A complete list of these partners is online here.

 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Additional Income: To supplement their stipend, some AmeriCorps members work part-time in addition to their full-time service. City Year does not prohibit members from doing so, though other commitments cannot interfere with your school-based service, training, or professional development.

Service is typically 45 hours per week plus your commute. Members with additional jobs or responsibilities typically limit them to weekends to allow themselves time to relax and rest after long days of service with their students.

Relocation: A summary of typical relocation and housing costs can be found here.

 

ENTERTAINMENT ON A BUDGET

Like any major city, having fun in Boston can be expensive. However, with a little planning and creativity you can find several free or low-cost things to do throughout the year.

Residents of Massachusetts can get a free Boston Public Library card by showing proof of residency at the Circulation Desk of any library in the network. Not only does this allow you access to the vast resources of the library system, you can also request free passes to 13 area museums.

The City of Boston’s recommendations for things to do on a budget include many favorites of City Year members and staff. Tours of the State House and Freedom Trail, exploring our many beautiful parks, lounging alongside the Charles, and sampling gelato in the North End are great for residents and visitors alike.

 

EXAMPLE BUDGETS

Below are the current monthly budgets for two City Year Boston AmeriCorps members. As you can see by how they allocate their resources, Lindsey and Mike have different priorities and expectations.

Lindsey relocated to Boston and shares a three-bedroom house in Jamaica Plain with three other City Year AmeriCorps members. When searching for a place to live, the group prioritized being along the Orange Line to minimize their daily commute time and make it easier to get around town. Lindsey created her monthly budget with the goal of saving money each month. To do so, she and her roommates utilize SNAP benefits and cook together, invite friends over, and take advantage of free entertainment in Boston such as museum passes from the Boston Public Library and public concerts. For tax purposes, Lindsey claims single/0. Included in Lindsey's budget is shared internet, a discounted membership to the YMCA, and in-building laundry.

Mike relocated to Boston and shares a four-bedroom apartment in Mattapan with three other City Year AmeriCorps members. He and his roommates met through the City Year Facebook group. Rent for the apartment that Mike and his roommates share does not include utilities, which average $75 a month per person. Though accessible by public transit, he occasionally travels via ride share to do laundry or to make going out a bit more convenient. Mike’s entertainment expenses and other expenses include an occasional take-out dinner or night out with friends, or video game. Included in Mike’s budget are a gym membership, Hulu subscription, and laundry. For tax purposes, Mike claims single/1. 

Monthly Budget Lindsey Mike
Stipend, after taxes $880 $925
SNAP Benefit $190 $190
Total Income $1,070 $1,115
Rent and Utilities $683 $725
Groceries/Food $190 $190
Transportation $0 $40
Entertainment $30 $75
Other Expenses $25 $40
Total Expenses $928 $1,070