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Are Resident Assistants Properly Compensated?

Schools use a variety of methods to pay resident assistants (RAs) for the work they provide in residence halls. But some RAs say these aren’t enough.

Campus living can be expensive, even for those essentially working for their university or college. And depending on how they’re compensated, RAs may actually have to pay to work in their residence halls.

A recent article in the Miami University school newspaper highlighted an instance where an RA would have to take out a $7,500 loan in order to pay for school because it was too expensive to live in the residence hall in which he was working. Instead, he opted to quit and move off campus and is now able to cover his bills by selling tickets for the university’s athletic department.

This RA was paid a straight salary, but other schools offer a combination of benefits to compensate RAs for their work. For example, the University of South Carolina gives its RAs 50 percent off student housing, a discounted meal plan and a stipend. This combination may work better for some and prevent them from having to take out student loans.

Student debt is a serious issue, especially in regard to student housing. Apartment communities that emphasize the value of their properties and any ancillary services or features (such as Internet cafes) that make it easier for students to work and study may be able to entice more residents — and potential employees.