STUDENT FINANCIAL SERVICES  |  OFFICE OF THE UNIVERSITY REGISTRAR  |  STUDENT EMPLOYMENT

   
Students

Types of Student Employment

The work-study award represents the maximum earnings potential while employed under the program for the academic year (fall/spring). The award is not deducted from the student's University bill. Once the student obtains a work-study job, the student is paid weekly by the employing department for those hours actually worked.

Work-Study employment can benefit a student in several ways:
  • Pay for personal expenses
  • Improve time management skills
  • Help build a student's resume
  • Serve as a reference for future employment

If a student chooses not to use their work-study award, it will not affect the student's current financial aid package, or future eligibility for work-study.

A student may postpone working until the spring semester. However, the availability of jobs may be limited.

Penn/Federal Work-Study is a federal government and Student Registration and Financial Services subsidized work program, which provides on-campus and off-campus employment to eligible undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. While the program offers a variety of job opportunities, a student is encouraged to seek community service work and/or work related to the student's course of study. The student is paid for those hours actually worked.

Federal Work-Study students are encouraged to pursue employment that is community service related. Community service positions contribute to the improvement in the quality of life for area residents by helping solve particular problems related to their needs. Job categories that are considered community service include:

  • Health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutorial service), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development, community improvement, and emergency preparedness and response.
  • Support services to enrolled students with disabilities (including students with disabilities who are enrolled at school).
  • Activities in which a student serves as a mentor for purposes such as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities, and counseling, including career counseling.

The U.S. Department of Education has clarified the issue of the acceptability of indirect community service positions as follows:

  • Students may be employed in community service positions that provide either direct or indirect services to the community. For example, it is acceptable for a Federal Work-Study student to be employed in a clerical position for a food bank. It is not required that the student be involved in delivering services directly.
  • Both on-campus and off-campus jobs can qualify as community service work.

However, on-campus jobs must involve a program, project, or service that is provided to the general public in the local community. On-campus jobs that serve only the campus community do not qualify as community service employment. All off-campus jobs, including community service jobs require a contract, which contains a description of the job and the conditions for employment.

International Student Work-Study is a Student Registration and Financial Services (SRFS) subsidized work program, which provides on-campus employment opportunities to eligible international undergraduate students only during the academic year. While the program offers a variety of job opportunities, a student is encouraged to seek work related to a student's course of study.

A work-study award represents the maximum earnings potential while employed under the program. The work-study award is not deducted from the student's University tuition bill. The student is paid for those hours actually worked.

Note:  International students are limited to on-campus employment, which is defined as working for Penn, on Penn Payroll, and on Penn premises. For more information and for off-campus work authorization, meet with an International Student and Scholar Service (ISSS) advisor.

A student who does not receive a work-study award as part of their financial aid package, or is a non-financially aided student, may be employed as a Student Worker. The employing department's business administrator appoints the student to Penn Works, and is responsible for paying 100% of the student's wages.

How to Find a Job

It is the student's responsibility to conduct a job search, apply for jobs, interview, and be hired. A student may only work for a supervisor who has a job listed on the Student Employment Office website.

Each job listing contains the supervisor's contact information. It is important for the student to follow the supervisor's instructions. Since a supervisor may have more than one job listed, note the job number.

The student is responsible for planning a work schedule with the supervisor, taking into account the student's academic schedule, study time, and extracurricular activities.

A student may only be employed by a nonprofit organization or government agency. In order for an off-campus employer to employ work-study students, the employer must sign an agreement with the University that will obligate the employer to pay a matching share of the student's gross earnings up to the maximum amount of the student's work-study award.

The matching share rate is 30% for the academic year and 50% for the summer.

If the off-campus employer you wish to work for is not listed on SEMS, then DO NOT accept an offer of employment until the employer's eligibility to hire work-study students is determined by the Student Employment Office. Please contact the the Off-Campus Coordinator, Karen Holland by calling 215-573-9171 or send an email to eemckoy@upenn.edu.

For a student who does not receive a work-study award as part of their financial aid package, or is a non-financially aided student, there are several ways of finding employment:

  • Browse the non-work-study job listings on the Student Employment Office website.
  • Contact individual departments directly to inquire about non-work-study positions.
  • Visit departments' websites. Departments may advertise the availability of non-work-study jobs.

The student is responsible for planning a work schedule with the supervisor, taking into account the student's academic schedule, study time, and extracurricular activities.

Normally, employment in a foreign country is not permissible under the law. However, a school with a branch campus in a foreign country may employ students if the branch has its own facilities, administrative staff, and faculty. Students may also be employed by a U.S. government facility such as an embassy or a military base. A student may not be employed for a nonprofit organization in a foreign country.

Through the Student Employment Management System (SEMS), a student is appointed online by the supervisor to a job number using the student's Penn ID number.

An e-mail confirming the student's job appointment will be sent to the student, supervisor, and department SEMS coordinator.

  • On-Campus - New student employees are required to complete a W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). Your employing department's business administrator will instruct you accordingly.
  • Off-Campus - New student employees employed by a nonprofit organization or government agency must come to the Student Employment Office to complete the W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). Our office is located at 100 Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street.

For new student international employees, you will need a valid Social Security Number in order to work in the United States. Information about the F-1 and J-1 Social Security Application Instructions is located at the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website.

Also, check with OIP-ISSS to make sure your employment will be considered on-campus employment as some entities on Penn's campus are not considered on-campus for immigration purposes depending on their federal employer identification number.

New student employees must also present the following documents to the employing department's business administrator:

  • FNIF (Completed Foreign National Information Form) is available here.
  • Social Security Card(Copy of Social Security Card or copy of the receipt for application for a Social Security Number - Form 5028)
  • I-94(Copy of INS arrival/departure record)
  • I-20(Copy of INS Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student
    OR
  • DS-2019(Copy of INS Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) status and written work authorization from OIP-ISSS (valid up to 12 months at a time)

The appointment of a non-work-study job is handled directly by the employing department's business administrator. New student employees are required to complete a W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). The student's employing department's business administrator will instruct the student accordingly.

How Are Student Employees Paid?

Federal and University regulations require that weekly hours must be supported by a listing of clock hours worked for each student. A student must sign in and out with the employing department at the beginning and end of each work period.

A student's on-campus weekly time sheet must be signed by the student and supervisor. The supervisor is responsible for submitting the student's time sheet to the department's business administrator for the payment of wages. A student is paid weekly based on the actual hours worked.

An off-campus supervisor will receive pre-dated Time Report Forms from the Student Employment Office. Time Report Forms must be faxed or e-mailed to the Student Employment Office every Friday by 5:00pm, in order for the student to be paid the following Friday.

A student cannot be paid for lunch, holidays, sick time, and other time off, or for receiving instruction in the classroom, laboratory, or other academic setting.

Work-Study wages are subject to the same federal, state, and local income taxes as any other earned income.

However, students enrolled in classes and working for the University are exempt from the 6.20% Social Security (FICA) and 1.45% Medicare tax deductions. This exemption does not apply to students employed off-campus by a nonprofit organization or government agency.

International students have the same taxes withheld that United States students do. Students that are from a country that has a tax treaty with the United States may be able to claim a refund of the taxes withheld when they file their yearly income tax returns. If you have any questions regarding taxation, please go to the Payroll Taxes Office, 310 Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street. The service window hours are Monday through Friday, from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Student employees can view their pay stub online through the Penn portal website and follow the instructions below.

  • Under the General tab, go to Payroll and Tax section, click My Pay
  • Enter your PennKey and Password
  • Displays the most recent pay period. If you wish to view another pay period go to Issue Date and choose the pay period.

Frequently Asked Questions

While it is preferred that a student have one job, we recognize the need for a student to work an adequate number of hours per week (within established limits) in order to cover expenses. A student's number one priority is academic achievement. Therefore, a student is limited to two jobs at any given time.

A student must have permission from their supervisor and business administrator at the home department before seeking a second job. The home department has the right to deny the student's request to work at a second job. The department's decision is final.

A student's primary responsibility is their academic achievement and work cannot be a priority.

When classes are in session, students (full-time or part-time) are not permitted to work more than a total of 20 hours per week.

When classes are officially not in session, students (full-time or part-time) are not permitted to work more than a total of 40 hours per week. A student is required to take an unpaid break or lunch of at least one-half hour after five consecutive hours of work.

Student employees are not eligible for benefits such as sick pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, or unemployment compensation, but are eligible for Workers' Compensation under the provisions of Pennsylvania law. Workers' Compensation covers expenses for medical care from job-related injuries or occupational diseases sustained in the course of employment. A student who suffers a work related injury must report it immediately to their immediate supervisor. The supervisor must report on-the-job injuries to the department's business administrator promptly.

A student must be removed from the work-study payroll for the following reasons:

  • Graduates
  • Withdraws from the University
  • On leave of absence
  • Dismissed or suspended for academic or conduct reasons

Work-Study Students: An employed student who intends to withdraw from the program, or who wishes to change jobs within the semester, must inform their supervisor. A student is expected to give at least one week's notice before leaving a position. This gives the department the necessary time to find a replacement for the student, or to adjust the work schedules of remaining employees in order to offset the staffing shortage. Releasing a student from a job is done online by the supervisor. An e-mail confirming the student's release will be sent to the department's SEMS coordinator.

Withdrawal from the program will not jeopardize a student's chances of receiving work-study eligibility in future years.

Student Workers (non-work-study): A Student Worker is expected to give at least one week's notice before leaving a position. The student should consult with the supervisor regarding the department's policy for changing or leaving the job.

It is the student's responsibility to report to work on time for every scheduled shift. If the student cannot work because of an illness, emergency, or will be late for work, the supervisor must be notified as early as possible before the shift begins. Potential conflicts should be discussed well in advance with the supervisor. Continued tardiness and failure to provide adequate prior notice of absence as determined by the supervisor are considered grounds for termination.

Requirements for attire are determined at the direction of the employing department.

A student and supervisor are encouraged to discuss any work-related problems. Experience has shown that most minor disagreements can be resolved by honest, non-confrontational discussion of the problem. An attempt should be made to informally resolve the disagreement between the student and the immediate supervisor. If the problem cannot be resolved within the department, the student should make an appointment with the Manager of the Student Employment Office to discuss the problem.

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