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 understand 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. If your benefits include a meal card, the food component will also be removed 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 regardless if you filed taxes.
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 mid-June for continuing students 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. Consult with your tax professional if you have further questions.
Do I have to report RA benefits on my FAFSA?
You must report your monthly signed stipend amount 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 for the same calendar year 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 2015-2016 FAFSA asks for income from the 2014 calendar year. Therefore, if you were an RA for both fall 2014 and spring 2015, you would report the value of the rent for the fall 2014 semester on your 2015-2016 FAFSA. The value of the spring 2015 rent would be reported on the 2016-2017 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 $21,224 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 $14,966.
Michelle's award is then adjusted by reducing the amount of an Subsidized loan and canceling her 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
|Original Award||Revised Award|
|Cal Grant B||$5472||Cal Grant B||$5472|
|Subsidized Loan||$5500||Subsidized Loan||$3944|
|Unsubsidized Loan||$2000||Unsubsidized Loan||$0|
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 $22,324 and her expected family contribution is $5,762. Once the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department is notified that Denise is an RA with a meal card, the room and board cost must be removed and Denise's adjusted cost of attendance as an RA is $11,262.
In this example, the student was awarded a Subsidized loan of $5,500 and Unsubsidized loan of $2,000. Her 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 and meal card benefit as untaxed income and the payment received as an RA as income earned from work.