Student Employment Questions and Answers
What are the eligibility requirements for employment in a student job title at the university?
There are two categories of student job titles, academic and non-academic. Eligibility requirements for student academic titles are found in the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures. In addition, detailed information on requirements for graduate students in academic titles is available on the Graduate School website. Eligibility requirements for student non-academic titles are found on the Human Resources website.
This chart summarizes the minimum enrollment requirements for each of the student job titles.
A student must be at least 15 years old to work or volunteer for UT Austin.
What are the limits on the number of hours a student may work in a student job title?
The number of hours a student may work in a student job title depends on a number of factors. This chart summarizes the university’s rules for students with Federal Work-Study awards, international students, graduate students, undergraduates in student academic titles, and students in non-academic titles.
Are criminal background checks required for student employees?
Yes. University policy requires criminal background checks for all applicants hired into a position with the university, including student positions. The Human Resources website provides detailed instructions for requesting a criminal background check.
Do student employees have to complete an Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)?
Yes. All employees must complete an electronic I-9 form no later than their first day of work. Employees must present original documents from the List of Acceptable Documents to show their identity and authorization to work in the United States. Information from the documents will be submitted to the federal E-Verify system for verification. Employees who receive an email with the subject line, Electronic I-9 Shuttle Request, should follow the instructions to complete the employee section of the form. If a student has had previous employment with the university, the student’s HRMS Employee Profile will show whether an I-9 has already been completed.
It is important for university departments to verify students' employment eligibility and correct any problems before allowing them to work. If students are not in compliance, they must not be allowed to work.
What compliance training modules must student employees complete?
All student employees must complete the following training modules within the first 30 days of employment and every 2 years thereafter:
- CW101 Introduction to Compliance
- CW121 Sexual Misconduct Prevention
- CW123 Equal Employment Opportunity-EEO
- CW170 IT Security Awareness
Note: CW170 will be available in September 2016.
Other training may be required, depending on the student's job and department. Additional information is available on the Student Employee Orientation and Training page.
During their first week of work, student employees also must read and acknowledge the Compliance and Ethics Guide [PDF]. In addition, new student employees must read and acknowledge the Standards of Conduct and Political Activities ethics statement [EID required]. Within three business days of beginning work, they also should read both the policy and the statute of law concerning conflicts of interest. More information on compliance training is available from University Compliance Services.
What other steps should new student employees take as they begin work?
For other steps new student employees should take, please see the New Student Employee Checklist.
Where can I go to learn about special requirements for international student employees?
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) has advisors who are available to help international students with questions related to employment in the United States. ISSS also provides general information about employment for F-1 and J-1 students.
How can I get information about federal work-study requirements?
Who establishes student pay rates?
The rates for student academic titles are established each fiscal year by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. The rates for student non-academic titles are established each fiscal year by Human Resource Services. The established student pay rates state a minimum and maximum amount that may be paid for each job title, and departments have discretion about how much to pay within the established range. For a list of student titles and pay rates, go to the Student Employee Compensation page.
How can I get information on the tuition reduction benefit and entitlement for resident tuition rates for student employees?
The Graduate School’s Graduate Student Employment website provides detailed information on both the tuition reduction benefit and entitlement for resident tuition rates. Information also is available on the Student Employee Benefits page.
Are student employees eligible for university insurance benefits?
Graduate students assigned to work in a student academic title for at least 20 hours a week for at least 4.5 months are eligible under state law for the university’s employee group insurance benefits. Certain graduate student fellowship holders also may be eligible. Undergraduates employed in student academic titles and students employed in student non-academic titles are not eligible under state law for employee group insurance benefits. However, any student employee may become eligible for the university's employee group insurance benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if the criteria set by that law have been met.
Insurance coverage for all university students, including student employees who are eligible for employee group insurance and student employees in one of the categories listed below, is available through the Student Health Insurance Plan:
- undergraduate student employees
- graduate students assigned to student non-academic positions
- graduate students in student academic positions who are not assigned at least 20 hours per week for at least 4.5 months.
Additional information can be found on the University Health Services website.
Are student employees eligible to receive paid annual leave (vacation), sick leave, and holiday leave?
No, student employees are not eligible to receive paid annual leave, sick leave, or holiday leave. Under state law, if student status is required as a condition of employment, these leave benefits are not available. For students in student academic titles, time off due to illness or during academic breaks is arranged in accordance with established practices of the hiring department (see Handbook of Operating Procedures 9-2010 – 9-2040) More information on benefits is available on the Student Employee Benefits page.
Are student employees eligible for Workers' Compensation?
Yes, students employed by the university to work in a student title are eligible for Workers' Compensation if they are injured in the course and scope of employment.
What income tax rules apply to student employees?
Student earnings, including earnings in a work-study job, generally are taxable as income for federal income tax purposes. For graduate student tax resources, go to the Graduate School website. Tax information for international students is available on the International Office website. Additional tax information for students is available from the Internal Revenue Service.
Is there a student exemption to FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes?
Students who are employed by and enrolled in the university may be exempt from paying FICA taxes if they meet certain eligibility criteria established by the IRS. More information is available from Payroll Services.
Can students work as unpaid interns for the university?
In April of 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor issued “Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” [PDF]. It contains general information about the criteria used to determine if an unpaid internship is legal. The Fact Sheet primarily addresses internships in the for-profit private sector, but in a footnote at the end, it notes that unpaid internships for public sector employers are generally permissible under rules that allow individuals to volunteer to perform services for state agencies. These rules require that the services be offered freely, without direct or implied coercion from the employer. In addition, the services must be performed without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation (with some exceptions, including reimbursement of expenses and nominal fees). Finally, individuals who are employees of the agency may not do work on a voluntary, unpaid basis that is the same type of work they do as employees. This means that a student who is working for the university in a paid position may not, at the same time, perform similar work in an unpaid internship. In the case of international students and their dependents, the International Office should be consulted.
Students who are volunteering their services as interns must be assigned to a University Affiliate position in HRMS with the “Volunteer” position subtype selected. Use the Background Check Administration system to initiate a background check for unpaid student interns. In addition, a Volunteer Application and a Summary of Duties form must be completed; these forms are available from the Student Employment Coordinator.
Is student consent required for the release of university student employment information to non-university entities?
If a student is employed in a position that requires student status, the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act (FERPA) covers information in the student’s employment records that personally identifies the student. FERPA prohibits the disclosure of covered information, with some exceptions. One exception allows release of protected information with the student’s consent. The consent must be written, signed, dated, and must state what information may be released, to whom, and for what purpose. An Authorization to Release Student Employment Records form [PDF] is available on the Human Resources website.
FERPA identifies certain information, called directory information, that may be disclosed without the student's permission (examples include name, e-mail address, and enrollment status). Job title and dates of employment in a student-status job are designated as directory information that can be disclosed without written consent, unless the student has restricted access to the information. Rate of pay is considered non-directory information that generally cannot be released without a student’s consent.
Is student consent required for disclosure of student employment records to departments within the university?
The Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act (FERPA) allows release of non-directory information to employees within the university who need to know the information for a legitimate educational or business reason. This exception is limited to disclosures within The University of Texas at Austin. For more information, go to the Office of the Registrar’s FERPA and Your Privacy page.
What are the performance expectations for student employees?
Student employees are expected to perform job assignments in a manner that is consistent with departmental goals and standards. Appropriate personal conduct, reliable attendance, and positive work attitudes are important aspects of satisfactory job performance. Students and supervisors should meet at the beginning of employment to clarify performance expectations and discuss university and departmental policies that apply to the student’s position. For suggested guidelines that departments may use to set expectations for student employees, see the Performance Guidelines for Student Employees [MS Word]. Other tools and suggestions are available on the Managing Student Employees page.
Are evaluations required for student employees?
University policy provides that teaching assistants and assistant instructors work under the supervision of a regular faculty member, who is required to prepare and file a written evaluation of the individual’s performance with the department chair at the close of each semester. There is no campus-wide requirement for evaluations of other student employees, but colleges and departments may have their own requirements and develop their own forms for this purpose. Feedback is critical to success on the job, and supervisors are encouraged to meet with student employees regularly to discuss their performance, strengths, and any areas needing growth and development.
Who handles student employment discrimination concerns?
Student employees with concerns about discrimination or harassment connected with their university employment should contact the Office for Inclusion and Equity. Concerns about discrimination or harassment encountered as a student (not as an employee) should be directed to the Office of the Dean of Students.
Is there a grievance process for student employees?
The university provides a grievance process for students in certain academic titles. Formal grievance procedures are available to teaching assistants and assistant instructors. There is also a process for handling employment disputes involving graduate and undergraduate research assistants and a process for handling disputes involving academic assistants, assistants, and tutors. There is no formal grievance process for students in non-academic positions. However, students in those positions should try to resolve any employment issues within their department, first with their supervisor then with the department chairperson or unit head, and finally with the vice president or dean of the hiring unit.
Tools for handling student employee issues and separations are available on the Managing Student Employees page:
Where can I go for help with student employment questions?
Human Resources has a Student Employment Coordinator to help you find answers to your student employment questions. University students also can contact the Student Ombudsperson with concerns about their employment with the university.
Another resource for the information on this page is askUS, a repository of answers to frequently asked questions about university-wide systems and processes.