Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm not in this for the money.

Obviously, people don't join Teach for America for the money. Becoming a public school teacher in a high poverty area isn't the most lucrative option most college graduates have available, even with the value of the snazzy Americorps education benefits factored in. I'm signing on for this out of a desire to help others, not get rich.

Still, it's good to know I'll have enough to live somewhat comfortably. The salary range for first year teachers in the Delta that TFA quotes is $27,000 to $35,000, but they also tout the opportunity to save money for the future as an advantage of teaching in their rural placement regions. Cheap housing makes a huge difference, and I expect that at the least I'll be able to budget for funding a Roth.

The difference between making $27,000 and $35,000 seems pretty significant. That might be related to differences in the cost of living in different communities, or it might just be differences in school funding. Since I'll get matched with a district rather than interviewing, I won't be able to take salary into consideration.

Honestly, I'm more worried about lifestyle inflation. Even though the pay won't be fabulous, it's still substantially more than the typical grad student stipend. I'm going to try to create a tight budget, sock away as much as possible, and develop spending habits that will be sustainable if/when I return to school.

3 comments:

A said...

I know you mention the delta, if your placed in Mississippi, the pay scale is pretty cut and dry.

Unless the districts supplement on top of that number. In SC, the district supplements make a huge difference.

I had a range of offers last year that went from 24,000 - 39,000. Unfortunately, the small rural schools where I want to teach are on the low end. I went towards the top end of the scale and next year am moving to the extreme high end.

The pay's nice but my raises are limited. (expect for pay for results)

teawithbuzz said...

School districts that have unionized teachers usually have a salary matrix based on years of experience and level of education. You get more money for having more experience, and you get more money for having more graduate credits/degrees.

The lowest salary on the matrix goes to the inexperienced teacher with a bachelor's degree. The number is lower in poorer communities and higher in richer ones. I don't think it is tied to cost of living at all-- but that may depend on the state. I have heard that teachers in some communities in California can't afford to live in the communities they teach in, just because the housing costs are so high. I have also heard of major teacher layoffs in California. The situation sounds terrible!

So I would guess that there is a range of salaries given by TFA because they work with more than one school system, and the base salaries are different depending on exactly where you are.

Amy K. said...

My only advice: living with a roommate cuts your rent significantly. If you can, go for it. My first job out of college paid $22,000 in 1999, and sharing a 2 bedroom cut my rent to $275/month, when it would have been $475 for a 1 bed. I have to admit I spent that money on lunchables, road trips, and vodka rather than an IRA. But I had enough leeway in my budget to save up for the deposit on an apartment when I moved to a bigger city, lend money to friends, and cut a huge chunk out of my student loans when they came due.