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Living & Working On or Off Campus

Campus in the foreground with the Philadelphia skyline in the distance

Students may choose to take a campus job during the academic year (including working as a Resident Assistant), working during the summer months, or taking an off-campus job. These earnings are intended to pay for a student's personal expenses, books, and supplies—not College-billed charges such as tuition, room, board, and the student activity fee.  

In addition, some students choose to live off campus, which may have implications for a student's budget beyond what is covered by a financial aid award.

Working as a Resident Assistant

Resident Assistants (RAs) serve a key role at Swarthmore. They help build student residential culture, act as confidants and supporters, and partner with the administration as needed.

There are important financial considerations related to the job of being a Resident Assistant. If you plan to work as a Resident Assistant, here are some key pieces of information to understand.  

2018–19 Resident Assistant Compensation

Resident Assistants (RA) for 2018-2019 will be compensated $7,938 for their work. Of the $7,938, $4,580 will appear as a credit on your bill ($2,290 each semester) and $3,358 will come to you through the student payroll for your personal expenses ($1,679 each semester).  RA compensation replaces the earning elements of the aid award, but does not affect the amount of your scholarship unless your financial aid package has a reduced summer earnings or campus job contribution.  In these cases being an RA may impact your scholarship.

Tax Considerations

The compensation you receive for your work as a Resident Assistant is considered taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service and must be reported on your federal income tax return, if you file one. The $3,358 paid to you directly through student payroll will be reported on your Swarthmore College W-2 wage statement form. The $4,580 credited directly to your College bill is not reported on your W-2, and must be accounted for separately on your federal income tax return.

Working a campus job

Many students work a campus job,  and typically these jobs are advertised and filled at the beginning of the semester. A variety of campus jobs are posted on Swarthmore's online student employment website, as well as at the annual job fair. 

Summer earnings expectations

Swarthmore’s expectation within a financial aid context is that students will work during the summer months and be able to save about $2,000 in the summer prior to beginning at Swarthmore and about $2,500 in the summers after the first year.

If you choose not to work, are unable to work, or are unable to save this amount of money, you may work more during the academic year or may be able to borrow additionally to fill the gap. If this is the case, please let the Financial Aid Office know as soon as possible if you will earn or borrow more during the academic year.

Living off campus

The vast majority of Swarthmore students choose to live on campus. If you choose to live off campus (but not with your family), the Financial Aid Office presumes that you will need to pay room and board expenses equal to the amount the College charges. Therefore, the budget that is used to determine your aid eligibility is the same whether you live on or off campus.

Although College aid cannot exceed your College bill, you may use federal, state, or family resources to meet off-campus living expenses