3.19 Student Employment


The purpose of this policy is to support the academic achievement of students and to comply with relevant law and policy by defining the parameters within which students are permitted to work as employees of the University.

Policy Statement

To be hired as a student employee, a student must meet eligibility requirements.  To hire students as employees, employing departments must follow prescribed employment and payroll processes and limit the number of hours student employees work as defined herein.

A.  Definition

For purposes of this policy, a student employee is defined as one who is enrolled at the University, and is employed by the University but not in a faculty or staff position. 

B.  Eligibility

1.  Enrollment minimum: Domestic students must be enrolled during the semester in which they will be employed.  International students must be enrolled full-time (12 undergraduate hours or 9 graduate hours) or enrolled in the Culture and Intensive English Program in any semester in which they are employed except in the final semester of their degree program when a reduced course load is permitted; or if the student has received approval from the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) for a reduced course load due to certain academic difficulties or medical conditions.  Students who are enrolled in the spring term and are registered for the next fall term may work during summer.

2.  Enrollment minimum for Federal Work-Study (FWS):  Students must be enrolled a minimum of half-time.  For fall and spring semesters, half-time is defined as at least 6 hours at the undergraduate level or 5 hours at the graduate level.  For the summer, half-time is defined as at least 5 hours at the undergraduate level or 4 hours at the graduate level.  

C.  Hiring and payroll

1.  Job posting: Departmental employers must post all vacant student employment positions on the centralized student employment website.  Departmental employers can promote the availability of positions through other means at their discretion.

2.  Hiring documentation: By the first day of employment, the Student Employment Approval Form (SEAF) must be completed and submitted by the hiring department to the Career Services Office.  With the exception of international students, the Federal I-9, Federal W-4, Iowa W-4 and Payroll Direct Deposit forms should also be completed prior to starting employment.   To see the locations where domestic students can complete the hiring paperwork please visit uni.edu/careerservices/campus-jobs

International students must proceed to the Payroll area in the Office of Business Operations (Gilchrist 103) to complete hiring documentation before starting employment.

3.  Wage rate: Departmental employers are not permitted to pay student employees less than the Iowa or federal minimum wage rate.  The Iowa and federal minimum wage rates are available from Payroll.

4.  Timecard and payroll: Student employees are required to document hours worked using one of the University’s online timecard systems, if available.  Departmental employers are required to review and approve hours worked and ensure that students do not exceed the maximum hours permitted by this policy.

5.  Direct deposit of pay.  As a condition of employment, all student employees will be paid by direct deposit only.

6.  Payment: Student employees are paid on a bi-weekly schedule.  Student employees must be paid for all hours they work. Once total allocated Federal Work Study funds have been earned by a student employee, the departmental employer is responsible to pay any additional earnings with departmental funds.

7.  FICA for international students:  International students studying on F-visas, J-visas, M-visas or Q-visas are exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA) on wages paid to them for services performed within the U.S. as long as such services are allowed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and such services are performed to carry out the purposes for which such visas were issued to them.  FICA-exempt employment includes:  On-campus student employment up to 20 hours a week (40 hours during summer vacations) and off-campus student employment allowed by USCIS and Practical Training student employment.  In addition, the U.S. has entered into agreements with several nations called Totalization Agreements for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to Social Security taxes. These agreements will be taken into account when determining whether any international student is subject to FICA. 

8.  FICA for domestic students:  Domestic student employees who are enrolled at least half-time are exempt from FICA.

D.  Maximum hours of employment 

1.  Domestic students:  Domestic undergraduate and graduate students, including graduate assistants, employed by the University are limited generally to working 20 hours per week during the semester.  In addition, students may work up to 40 hours per week during breaks and summer.

Regardless of the number of jobs a student holds with the University, the hours worked must remain generally within the parameters described in the preceding paragraph.

2.  International students:  Federal law mandates that international students who are employed by the University are limited to working a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year.  International students must sign a “Statement of Understanding” at the initiation of employment acknowledging their understanding of the 20 hours per week limitation. “Statements of Understanding” will be kept on file with the University’s Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) housed within the International Student and Scholar Office (ISSO). 

Payroll personnel will notify the PDSO of violations. The following actions will be taken in response to violations:

  • First violation – The PDSO will communicate in writing to the student, copying the departmental employer and Payroll, and direct that no further violation occur.
  • Second violation – The PDSO will notify the departmental employer and Payroll that the student’s employment is to be terminated immediately. 

3.  Resident assistants (RAs):  Resident assistants are not eligible to work in a student hourly position during the fall or spring semesters.  Resident assistants may work up to 40 hours per week during breaks and summer.

Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, approved December 14, 2015
President’s Cabinet, approved March 7, 2016
President and VP Council, approved April 18, 2016