FINANCIAL AID

Resident Assistants

Becoming a resident assistant (RA) has many benefits, such as free room and board each semester, team building and time management skills; less need to borrow loans; and the Pell Grant goes unaffected.

Will my financial aid be affected if I'm a resident assistant?

If you are selected as a resident assistant (RA) and are receiving state and federal funds as a financial aid recipient, it is important that you visit with a financial aid counselor to determine how you may be affected. The Financial Aid & Scholarship Department has to work within the set cost of attendance to determine the maximum total aid you may receive in an academic year. If you receive need-based financial aid, it may be necessary to adjust your award by reducing loans or grants.

How will my financial aid be affected if I'm a resident assistant?

As an RA, the financial aid awarded to you has to fit within your cost of attendance. It may be necessary to reduce a portion of your loans/grants to ensure the aid awarded does not exceed cost of attendance. In addition, changes to your original Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may be required.

The following areas are reviewed when determining your financial aid eligibility as a resident assistant:

  • Cost of attendance is adjusted by removing the housing cost component from your budget.
  • The value of the RA housing benefit must be included on the following year's FAFSA under "housing, food and other living allowances." It should be reported as student untaxed income.
  • The monthly payment you receive as an RA must be reported as income earned from work on the following year's FAFSA.

When can I expect my financial aid award letter?

It is important to file your FAFSA before March 2, the priority filing deadline, and respond to any document requests immediately. Award notices begin going out in late April and weekly thereafter. In the summer, Student Housing sends a list of confirmed resident assistant to the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department. Our department then makes any necessary revisions to your budget or award and sends you an email notification.

Do I have to report my resident assistant benefits on my tax return?

If you are required to file a federal/state tax return, the payment you receive as an RA is considered taxable income and must be reported on your tax return. The campus will issue a 1099 for any taxable portion of your RA benefits and, if you are required to file based on IRS established income guidelines, you would report the 1099 income. Consult with your tax professional if you have further questions.

Do I have to report RA benefits on my FAFSA?

You must report income from the 1099 on your FAFSA under "student's income from work," whether or not you file a federal tax return. In addition, you must report the value of your housing benefit on the FAFSA as untaxed income under "housing, food and other living allowances."

Remember to only report the value of the rent for the months within the calendar year requested on the FAFSA. For example, the 2011-2012 FAFSA asks for income from the 2010 calendar year. Therefore, if you were an RA for both fall 2010 and spring 2011, you would report the value of the rent for the fall 2010 semester on your 2011-2012 FAFSA. The value of the spring 2011 rent would be reported on the 2012-2013 FAFSA.

To get a better idea of how your resident assistant benefits might affect your financial aid, read the hypothetical scenarios below.

Resident assistant Michelle

Michelle is a senior living on campus before becoming an RA. Her cost of attendance as a student living on campus prior to being an RA is $24,916 and her expected family contribution is $0. Once the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department is notified that Michelle is an RA, the room cost must be removed and Michelle's adjusted cost of attendance as an RA is $16,986.

Michelle's award is then adjusted by reducing the amount of an unsubsidized loan to ensure her financial aid award does not exceed the revised cost of attendance. When Michelle completes the FAFSA for the following year, she will report the value of the housing benefit as untaxed income and the payment received as an RA as income earned from work.

Scenarios for Residential Assistant Awards

Hypothetical scenarios for Residential Assistant Awards
Original AwardRevised Award
Pell$5550Pell$5550
Cal Grant B$5472Cal Grant B$5472
Subsidized Loan$5500Subsidized Loan$5500
Unsubsidized Loan$2000Unsubsidized Loan$464

Resident assistant Denise

Denise is a junior living off campus before becoming a RA. Her cost of attendance as a student living off campus prior to being an RA is $24,916 and her expected family contribution is $7602. Once the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department is notified that Denise is an RA, the room cost must be removed and Denise's adjusted cost of attendance as an RA is $16,986.

In this example, the student's award does not need to be adjusted as all of the student's aid fits within the revised cost of attendance. When Denise completes the FAFSA for the following year, she will report the value of the housing benefit as untaxed income and the payment received as an RA as income earned from work.