Report: RA Compensation Across Michigan Colleges

Updated 2/21/2018, 9:04 p.m.

From December 2016 to February 2017, The Pleiad conducted a research initiative into the compensation of residential assistants (RA’s) across Michigan’s colleges.

Of the 45 non-profit colleges offering campus housing, 40 responded to inquiries by The Pleiad. Up to three emails were sent to staff members in housing, residential life, human resources or related departments. Specific, qualitative RA compensation information from 35 colleges was provided or found.

General inquiries were made to the public about the colleges whose housing, residential life or human resource staff members did not respond to contacts or did not provide specific information. The inquiries sought RA’s or other related student staff in each college who were able and willing to share their compensation.

Payment to RA’s comes in the form of scholarship, stipend, in-kind wage, hourly pay or waiver of room and/or board.

“Room” denotes a single-occupancy room from a non-first-year dorm-style building unless otherwise stated or such financial information could not be found. In order to create consistent comparisons between each college, compensation for RA’s in other housing is not factored. For example, RA compensation from working in an apartment complex or of a first-year dorm is not considered. “Board” denotes an unlimited meal plan unless otherwise stated.

Once an RA’s financial compensation was provided, a quantitative equivalent was given.

For example, Wayne State University provides free room and board to its RA’s. The quantitative equivalent would be the actual cost of room and board, $6,159, using the definitions of “room” and “board” above.

The quantitative equivalent was then taken as a percentage of a college’s cost of full-time tuition, room and board — room and board, again, remaining constant with the report’s definition of each word. The $6,159 a Wayne State RA receives is 56.37 percent of the total cost of their room, board and tuition.

Albion College provides $2,100 a semester to RA’s and $2,700 a semester to senior RA’s, a title given to RA’s that oversee all RA’s in one dorm building. Each successive year as an RA earns a student an extra $50 a semester to their pay. Albion RA’s also receive a single room, like most RA’s across Michigan, but are charged the rate of a double room. This gives RA compensation a quantitative equivalent of $3,870 to $4,470 a semester.

Albion RA’s compensation equates to 14.39 percent to 16.62 percent of the tuition, room and board costs. This makes them the third lowest in private colleges in compensation as a percentage of tuition, room and board. Below Albion is Hillsdale College and Rochester College, respectively.

The state government pays for part of the operation cost of public and community colleges. This allows tuition rates to be lower and RA compensation to be higher than most private colleges, who do not receive state funding. Thus, RA compensation as a percentage of room, board and tuition is generally higher in public colleges than private.

Room, board and tuition amounts for each college is taken from the current academic year. In-state tuition is used for private and public colleges; in-district tuition was used for community colleges.

Four spreadsheets of the RA compensations rates across Michigan colleges can be found below. The first spreadsheet lists all 45 colleges in alphabetical order. The remaining three divide the colleges into categories of public colleges, private colleges and community colleges; each college in these three spreadsheets is listed highest to lowest by their RA financial pay as a percentage of tuition, room and board.

A downloadable version of these spreadsheets can be accessed by clicking the following link: RA information.

If you are a staff member or an RA of a college that did not provide financial specifics and would like to contribute to the report, please email Beau Brockett Jr. at

All Michigan-based colleges

Private Michigan colleges


Public Michigan colleges

Michigan community colleges

Research conducted by Beau Brockett Jr. 

Photos by Beau Brockett Jr.

Feature photo by Alex Carey

About Beau Brockett Jr. 76 Articles
Beau Brockett Jr. served on Pleiad staff from Sept. 2015 to May 2019, serving as editor-in-chief his senior year. As of 2019, Beau is continuing his journalism career as the lead reporter for Niles, Michigan, for Leader Publications.

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