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Resident Assistant (RA) Financial Aid

When you live on campus as an undergraduate, your financial aid package is based on the fact that you will be billed for room and board. As an RA, you will not be billed for room and board, so your financial aid will be adjusted based on this cost difference – that is, since you earn your room and board, you cannot also be awarded financial aid for it.

Put another way, financial aid is awarded based on a simple equation:

Cost of Attendance Expected Family Contribution = Financial Aid
Since RAs earn free room and board, your cost of attendance for the year will be lower than a other on-campus students. Your expected family contribution (EFC) each year is calculated based only on your family's financial circumstances and aid application. Becoming an RA does not change your EFC. Since the cost of attendance changes and your EFC stays the same, the amount of your financial need and aid package will change.

Since costs are lower but your EFC remains the same, your aid package will be reduced. For RAs, work-study is always eliminated first, and Northwestern Scholarship will only be reduced by the amount necessary.

  • You will not have an additional work component (e.g., work-study) in your financial aid award, since you will already be working as an RA.
  • Your Northwestern scholarship and other grants will still be available to cover costs beyond your EFC. You may even owe Northwestern less than you would otherwise.
  • In addition to room and board, RAs earn $500 per quarter.

We encourage you to speak with a financial aid counselor to discuss how becoming an RA would impact your aid.

Example: Willie Wildcat

Willie currently lives on-campus, and wants to become an RA. His EFC is $15,000, and his regular financial aid package includes work-study and Northwestern Scholarship.

"Regular" Financial Aid RA Financial Aid
Cost of Attendance $81,283 Cost of Attendance
(Difference: $15,489
room & board not included)
Expected Family Contribution $15,000 Expected Family Contribution
(stays the same)
Financial Need $66,283 Financial Need $48,667
    Federal Work-Study $3,500     Federal Work-Study $0
    Northwestern Scholarship $62,783     Northwestern Scholarship $48,667
    Total Financial Aid: $66,283     Total Financial Aid: $48,667

Willie normally owes Northwestern about $4,500 per quarter. His family covers this balance and helps him pay for his books, and Willie uses his work-study job to help cover his personal expenses, like toiletries, clothes, and entertainment.

NU Invoice: Living On-Campus Fall Winter Spring
    Tuition $19,409 $19,409 $19,409
    Fees $198 $138 $138
    Room & Board $5,872 $5,872 $5,872
Total Charges: $25,479 $25,419 $25,419
    Northwestern Scholarship $20,929 $20,927 $20,927
Total Credits: $20,929 $20,927 $20,927
Balance Due to Northwestern: $4,548 $4,492 $4,492

When he becomes an RA, he will not be billed for room/board, so his work-study will be eliminated. His reduced Northwestern scholarship will continue to credit to his account, and he actually owes Northwestern less each quarter. His family contribution will still help cover his other expenses.

NU Invoice: Resident Assistant Fall Winter Spring
    Tuition $19,409 $19,409 $19,409
    Fees $198 $138 $138
    Room & Board $0 $0 $0
Total Charges: $19,607 $19,547 $19,547
    Northwestern Scholarship $16,223 $16,222 $16,222
Total Credits: $16,223 $16,222 $16,222
Balance Due to Northwestern: $3,384 $3,325 $3,325