Student Employment Questions and Answers

Getting Started

What are the eligibility requirements for employment in a student job title at the university?

The eligibility rules for student employment depends on the type of position and the student's status as a graduate, undergraduate, or Work-Study student. There are two main categories of student job titles, academic and non-academic. Eligibility requirements for student academic employment 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 employment are found on the Human Resources website.

For more information, refer to the Minimum Enroll Requirements for Student Job Titles chart (PDF). Departments may impose stricter limits for the students they employ.

A student must be at least 15 years old to work or volunteer for UT Austin. Additional requirements may apply through the University's Youth Protection Program and questions can be directed to

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 (PDF) 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 and Complete Form I-9 is one of the Onboarding tasks that will appear in a student employee's Workday inbox. 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.

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 again as required:

  • The Compliance & Ethics Program at UT Austin
  • Workplace Discrimination and Harassment (EEO)
  • Information Security Awareness
  • Title IX Basics

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” and the “Standards of Conduct and Political Activities” ethics statement in Workday [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 Risk and 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 and Compliance and Ethics Guide.

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 students.

How can I get information about federal work-study requirements?

The Office of Financial Aid provides detailed work-study information for on-campus employers, as well as a student guide to work-study employment.

Compensation and Benefits

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?

Academic graduate student employees scheduled to work for at least 20 hours a week for at least 4.5 months are eligible for employee benefits with a university contribution to the premium cost.  Review Academic Graduate Student Employee Insurance Options for more details. Certain non-employee graduate student fellows may also purchase employee insurance coverage at full premium cost.  Review Insurance for Graduate Student Fellows for more details.

Undergraduate and non-academic student employees are generally not eligible for employee insurance benefits unless they meet eligibility criteria for full-time employment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  These student employees will be sent an email notification if they become ACA eligible. 

Most students can enroll in the AcademicBlue Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), regardless of employment.  For more information about eligibility and enrollment, review the Academic HealthPlans 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 Texas Global 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 January 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) updated its 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 DOL 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, Texas Global should be consulted.

In Workday, departments should use the (A008) University Affiliate "Volunteer" job profile for students who are volunteering their services as interns. 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. Those forms, and others that may be applicable for certain volunteers, are available online.

Student Employment Records

Is student consent required for the release of university student employment information to non-university entities?

If a student is employed in a position at The University of Texas at Austin 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.

Performance Expectations and Dealing with Concerns

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 (PDF). 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 Center for Access and Restorative Engagement. 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 HR Student Employment Consultant 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 ServiceNow AskUs, a repository of answers to frequently asked questions about university-wide systems and processes.