Student Employment Programs

The following information should help employers decipher the sometimes confusing issues surrounding how students are classified and paid. 

TYPES OF EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS

The four types of student employment programs are:

Federal Work Study: A federally-funded program where the government subsidizes a portion of the student's wages but not the fringe benefits.  A financial aid form must be submitted, and a student is then placed on the program as a part of his/her financial aid package.  Students must have a high need to be eligible and must accept their award.

Michigan Work Study: A state-funded program where the state subsidizes a portion of the student's wages but not the fringe benefits.  A financial aid form must be submitted, and a student is then placed on the program as a part of his/her financial aid package.  Students must have a high need to be eligible and must accept their award.

Regular Student Employment: Any student is eligible for these positions on-campus and the department pays all wages and fringes.

Off-Campus:  Any student can be referred to off-campus employment.

 

EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATIONS

Students working on-campus fall into one of two classifications:

Student Labor: A College work study (CWS) or Regular (non-work study) student employee who meets the following criteria:

  • Student is enrolled at least half-time (6 undergraduate credits/4 graduate credits) and maintains that enrollment during the semester in which he or she is employed; or, during the summer semester, is enrolled at least half-time for the fall semester; and
  • Student is enrolled and is regularly attending classes towards completion of a degree, certificate, or diploma program.

Temporary Labor: An employed student who drops below half-time enrollment or is not enrolled in a degree, certificate, or diploma program.  Departments hiring and/or employing individuals who fall under this classification must consult with Human Resources.

 

PAYROLL DEDUCTIONS

Wages received by student employees are subject to federal and state income tax deductions.  Social Security and Medicaid Tax are not withheld for students while they are enrolled at least half-time and are regularly attending classes towards completion of a degree, certificate, or diploma program.

 

LUMP SUM PAYMENTS

Departments wishing to provide student employees with a lump sum payment instead of an hourly wage must retain the appropriate documentation providing the basis for the payment calculation for a period of two years. The documentation must include the period covered by the lump sum (specific start and end dates), the amount of the payment, and the hours of work expected during the period (click here for sample). The department must take into account the hours to be worked and ensure the hourly wage does not exceed the maximum rate ($11.20/hour) or fall below the minimum wage ($8.15/hour). Additionally, employers are to ensure that students do not work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year. Employers should also contact the Payroll Department at 227-2330 to verify the information required to process a lump sum payment through payroll.

To ensure lump sum payments are in compliance with the University's Student Employment Policy, please note the following example:

Student 'A' has been hired by a department to create a website. The agreed upon lump sum payment is $900.00 to be paid on a bi-weekly basis. Student 'A' has been given six weeks to complete the project. Since the student can work a maximum of 20 hours per week, the equivalent hourly rate is calculated as follows:

A. Term of Employment 6 weeks
B. Maximum # of hours/week 20
C. Total Number of hours worked 120 hours (A * B)
D. Lump Sum Payment $900
E. Hourly Wage $7.50 per hour (D / C)

This example falls within the NMU Student Employment Policy guidelines. For further assistance, please contact Career Services at 227-2800.

FICA TAX AND STUDENT EMPLOYMENT

Employing departments DO NOT pay fringe benefits, including FICA taxes, on Student Labor workers (as defined above) regardless of the number of hours worked in any given week or pay period, as long as the employed student maintains at least half-time enrollment status during the semesters they are employed.

Temporary Labor: Employing departments DO pay fringe benefits, including FICA tax, on all student employees who fall into this category.

 

WORK SCHEDULES AND PAYROLL MONITORING

The supervisor and the student should work together to develop an appropriate work schedule. As previously noted, a student should work no more than 20 hours per week when regular semester classes are in session without the direct approval of the department head.  Any students working overtime (over 40 hours per week) will be paid time and one-half.

Because working more than 20 hours per week can be detrimental to both the academic and social life of the student, Career Services monitors the number of hours students work each pay period.  In instances where a student works 25 or more hours per week, NMU Career Services will contact the full-time supervisor of the student to discuss the situation.  If the department head has granted an exception for that student, a copy of the documentation should be forwarded to Career Services. 

If no exception has been granted, and the student works 25 or more hours per week, a memo will be sent to the student’s direct full-time supervisor noting the violation (See Appendix).  A copy of this memo will be sent to the appropriate department head.  If a student works 25 or more hours per week more than three pay periods in a semester, and if no exception has been granted, a memo regarding the violation will be sent to the department head.  A copy of this memo will also be sent to the appropriate Divisional Vice President.

The intent of this policy is not to penalize employers or departments, but to ensure NMU students can successfully balance school and work and to encourage maximum student employment on-campus.

 

SUMMER EMPLOYMENT AND UNIVERSITY BREAKS

During normal school breaks of 5 weeks or less (Thanksgiving, December, Spring Break, May, and August) the student employment FICA exception applies to student employment.  Employing departments do not have to pay benefits, including FICA taxes, for students employed during these times, regardless of how many hours per week or per pay period worked by the student(s).  Employing departments are to follow the General Hiring Guidelines when employing students during breaks of five weeks or less.

In the summer, employees typically fall into three categories:

Student Employee - This would be any student who is enrolled in a minimum of 6 credits as an undergraduate or 4 credits as a graduate student.

Temporary Labor Student - Used in the summer only. This would be any individual that is not enrolled during the summer period but is pre-enrolled in a minimum of 6 credits as an undergraduate or 4 credits as a graduate student for the fall.

Temporary Labor - This would be an employee that does not fit either of the Student or Temporary Labor Student definitions above. If the employee fits this definition, please contact NMU Human Resources at 227-2330.


For an individual employed in August (after the last summer session but before the start of the fall semester), their status during their August employment would match that of their summer status as noted above. For example, if they were employed during the summer session as a Student Employee, they'd be employed in August as a Student Employee (as long as they were pre-enrolled for the fall). If they were employed as a Temporary Labor Student (not enrolled in classes in the summer, but were pre-registered for the fall), they would be employed in August as a Temporary Labor Student.

If an individual initially enrolls for four credits during the summer, they would be considered Temporary Labor Student.  If they then add a two credit class sometime during the summer (bringing their total to six credit hours), their hiring department must notify NMU Human Resources in order for the student's employment status to change from Temporary Labor Student to Student Employee.

When scheduling a student employee to work in the summer, employers should take into consideration whether or not the student is taking summer classes. If the student is not taking classes, he/she may be scheduled to work up to 40 hours a week (and will be considered temporary labor). If the student is taking classes, the employer should develop a work schedule that does not interfere with the student's course work. The number of hours per week should be worked out directly with the student.

  Student Laborer Temporary Laborer
Work Study Wages: 75% work study Funds
             25% Departmental Funds
Fringes: None
Wages: 75% work study Funds
             25% Departmental Funds
Fringes: Paid by Departmental Funds
Regular Student Employee Wages: 100% Departmental Funds
Fringes: None
Wages: 100% Departmental Funds
Fringes: Paid by Departmental Funds

 

EMPLOYMENT LEVELS

The following categories may be used to determine the appropriate pay range for a student job description.  The following tables outline the student employment levels and pay rates that have been adopted:

Employment Level
Minimum Qualifications
Examples
Level 1
  • Basic entry levels skills
  • Limited experience
  • Cashier
  • Stock Clerk
  • Custodian
  • Receptionist
  • Data Entry
  • Assistant Student Supervisor
  • Artist
  • Photographer
Level 2
  • Advanced skills, training, or experience specifically related to the position
  • Student Manager
  • Student Supervisor
  • Security Personnel
Level 3
  • Specialized training and/or academic background related to the position
  • Teaching/Research Assistant
  • Lab/Medical Tech
  • Computer Programmer

PAY RATES

In no case may a student be paid less than the State of Michigan minimum wage ($8.15 as of September 1, 2014).  The University’s maximum student wage is $11.20.  Exceptions to the student maximum wage must have your divisional Vice President’s approval and the documentation must be sent to the Payroll Department.

Recommended Schedule 
Employment Level
Minimum Rate
Maximum Rate
Level 1
$8.15
$8.65
Level 2
$8.55
$9.20
Level 3
$8.70
$11.20
  • Individual hiring departments are responsible for placing their student employees in the appropriate Employment Level based on the tables above; and
  • There may be some overlap in the hourly wage from one Employment Level to the next. For example, someone employed at Level 1 may be earning more than someone at Level 2.
    This is because the student employed at Level 1 may have been in their position longer, may be responsible for training new student staff, may possess very specialized skills and abilities, etc.