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Financial Aid & the RA Position

What will be the impact on my financial aid if I become an RA?

USC fully meets the demonstrated need of all eligible students, with a combination of work-study, loan, and grants. Becoming a Resident Assistant (RA) does not change your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is calculated based on your family’s financial circumstances. The difference between your cost of attendance and EFC is your financial need, which determines the amount of aid you are eligible for.

The Estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) will not include the housing and dining costs that are waived by USC for students who are appointed RAs. See chart below for current-year (2021-22) comparison.

  • Housing: If you become an RA, your COA will not include a component for housing, since the full cost will be waived.
  • Dining/Meals: If you are provided a Cardinal Meal Plan, you will not have a COA amount for dining, since cost is waived, and the value used in the COA is equal to the value of this meal plan. If you are provided an RA Apartment Meal Plan, your COA will have a reduced dining amount which reflects the lower value of the Apartment Meal Plan.

The lower cost of housing/dining will result in lower need and the resulting amount of need-based financial aid awarded. Recognizing the important leadership role of RAs at USC, the USC Financial Aid Office will provide RAs with gift aid equal to their demonstrated need, including the minimum student contribution. This will reduce or replace work-study and loans to meet the demonstrated of an RA.

Note: some students with additional merit or other externally funded financial aid scholarships may already have loan and/or work replaced in their Financial Aid Summary, and therefore not eligible for additional gift aid.

If you are concerned about the impact of being an RA on your financial aid eligibility, or have other questions, please contact the Financial Aid Office and let them know you are considering being an RA and have questions. On request, the Financial Aid Office will provide a pro-forma summary of what your current-year financial aid would look like if you were an RA. Continuing students with complete files will begin to be notified of their financial aid eligibility for the following academic year in June, after spring grades post and SAP is evaluated.

We encourage you to contact the Financial Aid Office if you have specific questions, and to make sure that your application for financial aid for next year is complete and there are no outstanding requests for information.


2021-2022 Estimated Cost of Attendance
Estimated Cost of
Attendance (COA) 2021
Living On/Off-campus Living w/Parents or Relatives RA with Cardinal Meal Plan RA with Apt Meal Plan
Tuition $60,446 $60,446 $60,446 $60,446
Fees $1,057 $1,057 $1,057 $1,057
Housing $10,102 $2,500
Dining/meals $6,630 $3,500 $4,520
Books and supplies $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200
Personal and miscellaneous $1,640 $1,640 $1,640 $1,640
Transportation $584 $1,920 $584 $584
Total COA $81,659 $72,263 $64,927 $69,447