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University of Washington
Work Study On-Campus Employer Handbook

Work Study Administration
520 Schmitz, Box 355882
Phone: 685-1985
Fax: 616-4862


Work Study is a form of financial aid awarded to students based on an evaluation of financial need. It enables them to work part-time while going to school (or full-time during the summer), so that they can pay some of their college expenses with their own earnings. From the on-campus employer's point of view, it is an opportunity to employ students at a fraction of the cost, since 60% of the student's wages are paid from federal or state Work Study funds.

Work Study, like all campus student employment, is subject to the University Student Employee Policy and EEO rules. Work Study employees also have the right to request disability accommodations and should be referred to the ADA Compliance Office or the Office of Disability Resources for Students when such requests arise. The intent of the Work Study program is to create new positions for students. By law, Work Study jobs may not result in the displacement of regular workers. A Work Study job may not replace any position currently or formerly occupied by Washington Personnel Resources Board classified staff and may not replace positions occupied by other regular employees during the current or prior year. In addition, Work Study positions may not be used in positions that would impair existing contracts for services or be used to fill positions vacant due to a labor dispute.

Student Eligibility/Limits of Employment

Only students who have been awarded Work Study funding by the UW Office of Student Financial Aid can be hired for Work Study positions. Since Work Study is financial aid, a student's eligibility and earnings limit are based on factors that are not job-related. Work Study funds are awarded to the student, not the employer. We cannot guarantee that all requests for Work Study student employees will be filled. It is important for employers to understand and accept these restrictions.

To be offered Work Study, a student must apply for financial aid by the deadline (usually February 28 for the following academic year) and must demonstrate sufficient financial need. Work Study funding may not be available for all eligible students, since funds are awarded from a limited annual allocation; once that allocation is committed, new awards cannot be made.

There are two separate Work Study employment periods - summer and academic year. Work Study positions for the academic year (Summer, if the student is enrolled, Fall, Winter and Spring Quarters) are part-time, no more than 19 hours per week. Summer positions for students not enrolled in summer classes are full-time, 40 hours per week, and last from July 1 to the last working day before the start of Fall Quarter.

The number of hours a Work Study student may work during the academic year depends on the amount of his/her award and the job's pay rate as well as Work Study program limitations. A typical award for undergraduate students is $3,000/year ($4,500 for graduate students), but an individual student's award may be more or less depending on financial need and other factors. The student may earn up to the total amount of the award. If the student works after earning all of his or her award, the employer bears the responsibility for paying 100% of the student's wages without the Work Study subsidy. All earnings which exceed the amount of the award, or which are earned during periods not covered by the award, are the responsibility of the department. Students may also inquire at the Work Study office about the possibility of an award increase.

In order to continue in a Work Study position, a student must remain eligible for his/her Work Study award. Students must maintain their enrollment and they must also complete a minimum number of credits each quarter they receive aid. If a student fails to complete the minimum credit requirements or withdraws from school, the Work Study award will be canceled and the employer will be notified that the student's eligibility has been terminated. Also, a student's eligibility for aid can be affected by changes in personal or financial circumstances occurring through the year. If a student no longer demonstrates sufficient financial need for the Work Study award, it will be canceled.

Invitation to Participate

The Work Study Office (part of the Office of Student Financial Aid) sends information to central departmental offices and previous Work Study employers about two months before the start of each Summer Quarter. If you wish to hire a Work Study student and do not receive the forms by May for the new academic year, please contact the Work Study Office.

Job Descriptions

Job descriptions for Summer 15 or Academic Year 15-16 will be accepted beginning early June.

On-campus employers interested in participating in the Work Study Program will be required to submit a job description form.

The job description is very important, as it is the first contact potential student employees have with the department. It is up to you to state the requirements and duties of the job clearly, to describe the educational benefits the student can expect to gain from this work experience, and to make the job as interesting as possible in order to attract applicants.

Let us know when you submit the job description whether you already have a student to hire. It is your responsibility to verify the student's Work Study eligibility from the applicant. If you have a student hired, the position will be listed as a "closed" position and as an "open" position if you need applicants. Graduate Assistant positions are assigned by appointment; therefore, they will not be listed. You should already have a graduate student appointed before submitting the job description.

After your job description is approved a copy will be returned to you with a job number assigned to the position.

EEO Requirements

In completing your job description, keep in mind Equal Employment Opportunity requirements. The qualifications requested should match those needed to perform the job duties without reference to personal characteristics such as an employee's age, sex, national origin, or terms that imply these characteristics. Examples:

Acceptable Descriptions Unacceptable Descriptions
Must have completed Chemistry 201 Junior or senior level
Able to answer busy phones, take messages, direct calls Good communication skills
Proofreading, editing, filing skills Good communication skills

Pay Rates

The campus employer is responsible for establishing the pay rate for a Work Study position according to the current University of Washington Student Employee Pay Schedule and Classification Guidelines published by Human Resources. (Exception: see Graduate Student Appointments) The Work Study Office reviews Work Study job descriptions for compliance. Requests for exceptions must be sent to Human Resources on a "Student Employee Exception to Pay and Classification Schedule" form. If approved, a copy of the approval must be sent to the Work Study Office with the job description form.

Changing Pay Rates

Reasonable changes within the student employee pay classification do not require prior approval and can be changed using the On-line Payroll Update System (OPUS).

Graduate Student Appointments

Graduate students awarded Work Study during the regular academic year may be appointed by their departments as: Work Study Teaching Fellows, Research Assistants, or Staff Assistants. That's in addition to Student Assistant jobs. Academic departments may request rosters of graduate students who are eligible for participation in this program from the Work Study Office. Some students may be awarded Work Study after the departments receive their rosters. As with other students, Work Study awards can be verified by asking the student to present a Job Referral Form.

Work Study Graduate Assistants are paid at the hourly rate equivalent to regular graduate assistant appointments including the value of the waiver of a portion of resident tuition. Tuition waivers are not part of their compensation. Work Study Graduate Assistants must be paid hourly and may not work more than 19 hours per week. If the Work Study appointment is combined with other hourly campus employment, the combined hours may not exceed 19 hours per week. Work Study student employees are limited to earning the amount of their awards. Because of the higher pay rate for these students, the number of hours worked per week may be much fewer than 19. Students interested in switching some of their loans to Work Study to increase their number of hours may inquire at the Work Study Office.

Job Selection

About two weeks before the start of an employment period (summer or academic year), the job listings will be posted for students to apply. The students contact employers directly to arrange for interviews and may apply for as many positions as they choose. There are always more positions available than there are students eligible for Work Study, so again, it is important that your Job Description be clear, concise and reflect a competitive wage for that type of job.

Job Referral Form

Applicants for your Work Study position must provide you with a Job Referral Form (JRF) before being hired. If they do not have one, they should not be interviewed, as they may not be eligible for Work Study. They can be referred to the Work Study Office (520 Schmitz Hall) for a JRF if they have been awarded Work Study or to the Office of Student Financial Aid (105 Schmitz Hall) to discuss their eligibility.

The JRF for the academic year employment period shows the quarter amounts and academic year award total, and the beginning and ending dates of the employment period. The JRF for the full-time summer employment period does not show a maximum award as students are expected to earn as much as possible during the summer. The amount earned for summer will depend on the job's pay rate and the total possible working days in the summer period (remember that full-time Summer Work Study students must work full-time, 40 hours per week).

Please note: A separate JRF is required for the academic year for those students working full-time in the summer and are not enrolled. This is true even if the same student is continuing in the same job.

Every year is a period of new eligibility. A new JRF is required even for your continuing Work Study employees.

Interview/Screening Process

It is advisable to review the Job Description with the student during the interview and also point out any special requirements not listed on the Job Description, such as particular hours needed (e.g., lunch coverage every day). Make sure the student is fully aware of the requirements of the job, so there won't be any unpleasant surprises later.

Since there are always more Work Study jobs than students available to fill them, you may not find the "ideal" student employee. It may be helpful to consider the applicant's potential as an employee in addition to his or her work experience. Some Work Study students have little or no prior work experience but, if well trained and supervised, will be an asset to a department.

As the employer, you select which eligible Work Study student to hire from those who have contacted you. To the extent possible, students should be hired into positions that are related to their educational goals or career interests.

Please note: If your job falls under the Child Adult Abuse law and/or similar State Department of Health regulations requiring background checks, please remember that you are responsible for obtaining and retaining the Criminal History Form for work study students, just like any other hourly or temporary staff.

Hiring/Payroll Documents

When you have hired a student, complete the employer's section of the Job Referral Form and return the original (white copy) to the Work Study Office within one week of hiring and prior to the student's first workday. Give the student his/her copy and keep the employer's copy for your records. It is important that the employer's section be completed accurately, especially the job number. The job number enables the Work Study to know which job has been filled and can be removed from the open listings.

After you have returned the completed Job Referral Form, the department initiates the required payroll documents and enters the student in the On-line Payroll Update System (OPUS). When possible, the documents should be submitted to us at least two weeks prior to the first time sheet due date (see Time Sheets).

Hiring/Departmental Information

In addition to completing the necessary information to place a student in the UW payroll system, other information must be provided to all new employees, including students, at the university. As an institution receiving government funding, each employee must be apprised of the Drug Free Workplace status of the institution and that employees must abide by the prohibition of the use of drugs in the workplace as a condition of employment. The hiring department is responsible for administering the Drug Free Workplace Notification requirement for student employees as specified in the UW Operations Manual, Section D 13.7. In addition, Washington state law and university policy requires that employees be apprised of hazardous chemicals within the department. The UW Operations Manual, Section D 12.5 includes a list of hazardous substances, which may be present and describes methods of informing employees about hazardous chemicals. Information, training, and flyers on hazard communication are available from the Environmental Health and Safety Department (Box 354400, 543-7262).


Supervision of student employees involves providing adequate orientation to work rules in the department and training for specific job duties. It also involves planning the student's work schedule, confirming hours worked on the Work Study time sheet, and monitoring hours worked as well as the student's earnings and Work Study award. Each Work Study student must be supervised by a regular UW employee who can attest to the quality of the student's work and hours reported on the time sheet. The level of supervision, whether close or limited, will depend on the job duties, and the student employee's abilities and experience. The student should know at all times who is his or her immediate supervisor and know who to contact about problems arising on the job.

Planning the Work Schedule

During the academic year period, students are awarded a fixed amount of Work Study funding, subject to revision. You and your Work Study student should plan the work schedule so that the student can work throughout the award period and use the entire amount of the award. The average number of hours per week can be determined using the following formula:
Amount of award/number of weeks = $ per week
$ per week/hourly pay rate = # of hours per week

Students may work a maximum of 19 hours per week while classes are in session. If, after calculating the hours per week using the above formula, you find the student will not be able to use the full award, you may refer him or her to the Office of Student Financial Aid for a possible adjustment in the aid package. In most cases, a student will be able to use the remainder of the award during quarter breaks (see Employment between Quarters ). The last day any academic year Work Study funds can be earned is the last day of final exams of Spring Quarter.

You and the student should establish a work schedule that takes into account both your needs. If the job has specific time requirements, these should be made clear on the Job Description and in the interview. Work Study students are, first and foremost, students and you should try to be as flexible as possible regarding class schedules and other academic requirements. At the same time, Work Study students are expected to be responsible employees, and to give notice if they are ill or otherwise must be absent during regular work hours. Students should be advised at the time of hiring about your expectations for notification of lateness or absence.

If the student becomes ineligible for aid (e.g., fails to complete the minimum credit requirement or withdraws from school), or is not awarded Work Study for the following quarter, the unearned portion of his or her award is lost.

Please note that you will be notified if your student employee becomes ineligible for Work Study. If he or she continues to work after you have been notified or after withdrawal from the university, you will be responsible for paying 100% of the wages. Students must be paid for all hours worked. If they are no longer eligible for Work Study funding, your department is responsible for the balance of their earnings.

Employment between Quarters

A student may work up to 40 hours per week when classes are not in session providing he or she has been awarded Work Study for the current and following quarter and remains eligible. A student who graduates or does not plan to enroll the following quarter may not work during the quarter break on Work Study.

The period between the end of Spring Quarter and the beginning of Summer Work Study (July 1) is not considered a quarter break. Students cannot work during this time.

Summer Work Study Schedule

Full-time Summer Work Study students work full-time, 40 hours per week from July 1 until the last working day prior to the start of Fall Quarter. Calculation of the student's summer award is made according to the following formula:

Pay rate X 8 hours/day X # days in summer work period = Summer Work Study Award

After paying for job-related expenses in the summer, the student is expected to save a specific amount from Summer Work Study earnings to help pay for academic year expenses. If he or she requests time off, you may permit it, but the student should be aware that no adjustment to the expected contribution will be made by the Office of Student Financial Aid in calculating academic year eligibility. If a student is not able to earn the full amount of the award due to circumstances beyond his or her control (e.g., extended illness or office closures), the student should consult the Work Study Office.

Part-time Summer Work Study students (students enrolled in Summer school) may not begin working until July 1. Although Summer Quarter starts earlier, Work Study is not available until the new funding year begins on July 1. There is no Work Study Program between the last day of Spring Quarter and July 1; students working during the interim must be paid 100% by the department.

Employee Evaluations, Conflicts, and Termination

We recommend you establish formal or informal procedures for evaluating your Work Study student's job performance, so the student knows how he or she is doing on the job and can make appropriate changes. Evaluations need not be extensive, but should be as frequent as necessary and take into account both a student's basic skills and improvement in performance. On-going evaluation of job performance is a courtesy to students and may prevent problems that could result in termination.

If a problem develops between you and your Work Study student such as a personality conflict or a misunderstanding regarding job duties, you should attempt to resolve the dispute within normal channels of your department following the current University policies. If this process is not successful, you may contact the Work Study office for assistance. The final arbitrator in employment disputes is the Office of Risk Management.

If you find you need to terminate a Work Study student's employment, the general rule is to give 15 days written notice of the termination.


Students must be paid at the established pay rate for all hours worked including training time. However, if a student works in excess of 40 hours in any week, he/she must be paid by the department "time and one-half" for hours in excess of 40 hours per week. Since the Work Study Office does not authorize overtime, these costs must be paid by the employing department.

Work Study students are paid on the same schedule as regular university staff on the 10th and 25th of each month. Checks are distributed to the student's home department along with other payroll checks. Before disbursing a payroll check to the student, verify the amount with your records to catch any errors.

Some students may also wish to complete a Direct Deposit Authorization to deposit paychecks directly to personal savings or checking accounts. These may be submitted with other payroll documents. However, students should be advised that direct deposit authorizations may take a couple of pay periods to become effective. It is important that they pick up paychecks in the meantime and do not assume that a check is automatically being deposited without verifying that the authorization has become effective.

Payroll Documents

The employing department initiates all required payroll documents. The W-4, I-9, and Direct Deposit Forms are submitted directly to the Payroll Office, Box 355655. The Affirmative Action Form is submitted to the Equal Opportunity Office, Box 354560. The employing department's Payroll Coordinator enters the student's personal date in HEPPS.

Using the "Online Payroll Update System" (OPUS) the payroll coordinator will enter the Work Study appointment. Please use the following guidelines:

The employing department will be the "Home Department" who will receive the student's paycheck or advice for direct deposit.

Work Study will be the "Appointing Department," so the student will appear on our online "Payroll Time Reports." The department budget to use is "69-1100." In the appointing department area, click the down arrow to the left, which will expand this area. A drop-down box will appear indicating "Work Study Program." You will then choose "Federal Work Study."

Work Study appointments are always paid hourly and the "Job Class Codes" to use are as follows:

  • 0875 - Pay rates within the University of Washington Student Pay Schedule.
  • 0872 - Pay rates that exceed the maximum allowed and are approved by Human Resources by completing an "Exception to Pay Form." Work Study Graduate Assistants
  • 0881 - Teaching
  • 0882 - Research
  • 0883 - Staff

"State Work Study" is generally used for Graduate Teaching or Research positions. This budget changes every fiscal year, so check with the Work Study Office for the current budget and graduate pay rate. The "Job Step" will need to be entered in the appointing area for graduate assistant positions. This number is "010."

Other State Work Study funded positions will be determined by our office. This determination is indicated on the bottom left corner of the approved Job Description. If necessary, we'll make any changes to the Work Study budget or corresponding codes. We receive a "Post Entry Review Message" of all Work Study entries in OPUS.

Only the employing department's budget number is indicated in the distribution area. The "Earn Types" to use are "WSS" for State Work Study and "WSF" for Federal Work Study. The position numbers are "0899" for State and "0900" for Federal.

The payroll coordinator, using OPUS, will initiate any pay rate or budget changes.

Time Sheets

The Work Study Office prepares the Work Study payroll. Pay is based on the report of hours recorded on a Work Study time sheet. After you have hired a student and returned the completed Job Referral Form to the Work Study Office, we will send you specific payroll instructions.

Submitting Time Sheets on Schedule

Your instructions will include a Work Study Payroll Schedule showing the dates time sheets are due in the Work Study Office for each pay period. Please note: Work Study time sheets are due a few days before the University's pay period end dates. This schedule gives the Work Study Office sufficient time to review the time sheets, check for accuracy and eligibility and make the Positive Time Report cut-off date. We will make every effort to accommodate late time sheets and include them on payroll reports; however we cannot guarantee that time will allow this. In many cases, a late time sheet will mean that the student will have to wait until the next pay day (approximately 15 days) to receive his or her check. Please note, however, that the Work Study program is funded by fiscal year and that no payments or payroll adjustments can be made after the close of the fiscal year's accounting records at the end of June.

Time Sheet Information and Signatures

It is very important that time sheets are completed carefully and accurately. The hours reported for the student must represent actual time worked in that pay period (see Time Sheet Adjustments below for the exception). Items of special importance are budget number, pay rate and signatures. Time sheets must have original signatures - do not send photocopies or use signature stamps. Do not pre-sign time sheets; the supervisor's signature must be affixed after the time sheet is completed and no earlier than the last day of work on the time sheet certifying under penalty of perjury that the time sheet accurately represents hours worked.

Time Sheet Adjustment/Correcting Errors

Errors are sometimes made on Work Study time sheets and, as a result, the student is either overpaid or underpaid. If you make an error in reporting time worked (e.g., you report too few or too many hours), you may make the adjustment by adding to or subtracting from the time sheet for the next pay period. Attach an explanation of the error including dates and hours previously reported in error to the "adjusted" time sheet.

If the Work Study Office makes an error in reporting hours to the payroll office, we will notify you so that you can notify the student - and we will make the adjustment on the next payroll report or request an emergency correction from Payroll. If we make the error, please do not make any adjustment on the next time sheet.

Monitoring Earnings

As you submit Work Study time sheets through the quarter, keep track of the student's earnings to ensure fairly consistent use of his or her award. Some departments ask the student to monitor their own earnings. As the employing department, however, you are responsible for monitoring earnings and must pay for all hours not eligible for Work Study funding from your departmental budget. If a Work Study time sheet is submitted that includes earnings that exceed the student's award, we will notify you that you need to create and hourly appointment and report the excess hours on the department's Positive Time Report. If payment has been made before the error is detected, the charges will be transferred to the employing department. Your budget will be charged 100% for the extra hours.

Budget Activity Reports and Payroll Certification Reports

Review student employment charges on your monthly Budget Activity Reports (BARS) or Payroll Certification Reports (PCRs). Your charge should reflect the 40% employer portion of your student's wages. If your budget is charged incorrectly, notify the Work Study Office immediately. We will review the charges, and make appropriate corrections. Because Work Study funding is allocated on a yearly basis, adjustments requested after the end of the fiscal year may not be possible.

Requests to transfer the employer's portion of Work Study wages from one department budget to another should be sent directly to the Payroll Office from the department.

The Work Study Office also checks Payroll Certification Reports for correct charges to the Work Study budgets. Amounts charged to Work Study which do not correspond to approved Work Study hours (for example, hourly pay incorrectly charged to Work Study), will be transferred to the employing department.