Senior Corps Advice: How to Survive NYC on a Stipend

While New York City has no shortage of exciting events, incredible food, people or diverse cultures, it can also be expensive. For first year corps members, the idea of living on a stipend here can be intimidating, but for 10 years, our CYNY corps have proved that it’s definitely possible. A few of our senior corps members had a few words of advice on how to survive the big city on a stipend:

Emma AchbergerHometown: Cincinnati, OH
“When I first found out I was coming to NYC, my parents were not thrilled about it – they wondered, “how are you going to live on such a small budget in such an expensive city?”  From living here the past month, I have found that the city isn’t that expensive if you know where to shop… As far as housing, there are a lot of different options. You should use the City Year corps as a resource in order to find roommates. It’s a lot easier and cheaper! Another great benefit is the Give a Year Partnerships. I’m considering graduate school after this year and knowing that my experience in City Year can possibly get me an exclusive scholarship is invaluable.”
Matt Matthew Bedrick
Hometown: Berkley, CA
“NYC is one of the most exciting cities in the world because there’s so much to do! There are some things that are very expensive, but a lot of things that are affordable or free! Especially over the summer, there’s tons of free movies, food festivals, art festivals, block parties – search those out and enjoy them. The key about a stipend is to find all of these activities and on occasion, if you want to treat yourself, you explore the others…We wear uniforms every day for work so you don’t need to go out and spend tons of money on other outfits, either.”
Erika Flores
Hometown: Manhattan,NY
“Living at home during my corps year really helped me out financially. I was able to put the money that I would have used as “rent” aside, and clear some of my college debt. I also was able to pay my cellphone and car insurance, and still have money left over for myself to have “fun” with… Also, a huge perk is the $5,550 educational award. Being a college graduate or if you want to go to school, [the educational award] is a great way to relieve financial stress. There are also professional days, networking and trainings to build up your resume and to teach you how a resume and cover letter should look. You have a better chance of landing a career or anything you choose to do with this experience.”
Yonas Fikak
Hometown: Eritrea, Africa
“My family was definitely really nervous about it…but I was able to survive on a stipend! The fact that we are eligible for EBT food cards and monthly metro cards really helped a lot – without them, I don’t think I could have made it. Once I pay my rent, I don’t have to worry about paying for transportation or food, which are essential. The rest of it is up to me how I spend the money.  It’s been really good, at times I felt constrained when I wanted to do fun things and [I] had to try and control my spending habits. But, I got through it and I’m ready for another year!”