Student Employment Guidelines for Supervisors & Student Employees

This resource guide is intended to provide guidelines only, which are informed by student employment, human resources and financial aid. These may be modified or supplemented at any time.

Purpose of Work
Nuances of Undergraduate & Graduate Student Employees

Federal Work Study
Student Employee Eligibility 
Hours Worked
Period of Employment

Volunteering at Work
Student Employee Separation
Supervisor Responsibilities 
Student Employee Responsibilities   
Pay Rates and Compensation
Posting Positions in PCO

Purpose of Work

Through student employment, student employees will access learning and professional development opportunities, gain experience and obtain transferable, if not direct, skills. Student employees are studentfirst and they have added responsibility and commitment to their work. We ask supervisors to be supportive and flexible by building schedules around class and finals week and helping guide their student employee with the unforeseen. We ask student employees to be communicative about needs and challenges and honor commitments.  

Nuances of Undergraduate Graduate Student Employees 

Depending on the position and type, there may be a higher level of commitment and hours asked of for graduate students than for undergraduate students. Graduate Assistantships positions, for example, are typically tied to academics and created with the goal of giving the graduate student experience so that the student may pursue a career in the same field after graduation. For information on graduate assistantships, please check out this resource.  

In the case where undergraduates and graduates are hired into the same position type, these students may be in different developmental stages and have different experiences. Establishing the supervisory relationship between the supervisor and student employee is key to determining these nuances and defining expectations early.  

While navigating wearing both a student hat and a student employee hat can be challenging, we believe this part of what makes the student employment experience so great. Students can learn this navigation of work life integration or balance early, making them more prepared for their careers and lives of purpose. Supervisors can learn coaching techniques and flexibility as they take this journey with their student employees.  

A note on language: 

You will notice throughout this guide we use the term “student employee” to describe students who have either work-study or non-work study funding. The term student employee encompasses both funding sources. Work-study is a funding source and not a way to describe students. It’s also important to keep in mind that when a student is called “a work study” formally and publicly, their financial need is revealed.  

We encourage supervisors to begin using “student employee” when referring to their employees. Where policies differ, the guide will state “work study funded student” or “non-work study funded student”.  

Federal Work Study 

The work-study program provides job opportunities for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses. Work-study jobs are available both on and off campus. Departments on-campus may open work study positions for students, with federally sourced, rather than department, funding. If the student works off-campus, then the employer must be an approved private, nonprofit organization or public agency. The work performed must be in the public interest.  

Although many students qualify, a work-study award is not offered to all eligible students due to limited funding. We make a conscious attempt to support employment needs of all University of Denver students to the greatest extent possible. F-1 and J-1 international students are not eligible for Federal Work Study positions.

 For more information on Federal Work Study, please check out the Financial Aid or contact 

Student Employee Eligibility  

Any employment with the University of Denver is related to the student’s educational program and students who are currently enrolled in the University of Denver are eligible to apply. F-1 and J-1 international students are eligible for on-campus employment (this includes F-1 students enrolled at the English Language Center). Please see the ISSS website for more information.

For students who do not have work-study funding, there are no qualification requirements related to citizenship, FAFSA completion or credit hours. For students interested in work-study funding, they must:  

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or be an otherwise eligible non-citizen (as determined by FAFSA) 
  • Complete and file a FAFSA (if a student’s FAFSA is selected for Verification, additional documents must be submitted) 
  • Be enrolled in at least a half time class status (UG: 6 credit hours, GR: 4 credit hours) 
  • Demonstrate financial need 

Priority awarding will be given to students who meet the priority application deadline. work-study awards may be prorated for students that do not attend the University for the full academic year. Students may only have one work- study position at a time. Work-study awards may not be utilized in combination with a GTA or GRA waiver within the same quarter or semester. 

For more information on Federal Work Study, please check out the Financial Aid or contact 

Hours Worked 

The University of Denver is committed to the philosophy that academic pursuits come before all else. To support students, we strongly advise undergraduate student employees with a full-time course load to work no more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session. An average is 10-15 hours per week.  F-1 and J-1 international students are limited to 20 hours per week while classes are in session. Please see the ISSS website for more information.

Research shows undergraduate students working 10-19 hours per week show greater academic performance and is a more optimal work-college balance (Dundes & Marx, 2007). It also allows student to be involved in other developmental activities like student organizations and community service (Furr & Elling, 2000). 

Depending on the position and type, graduate student employees may be expected to work more hours as the position is connected to their academic studies and department. Graduate Assistantships, for example, work an average of 15 hours per week.  

The shift length per day for student employees varies, but the average is 2-4 hours. There may be times when the student employee is needed to work more hours in a day. Please refer to the next section regarding breaks and meal period.  


During University holidays, students may work 37.5 hours per week. Students are prohibited from working on official University holidays. However, if an office must remain open during an official University holiday, students are permitted to work if a supervisor is present. Work-study funded students cannot receive a higher wage for work performed on a holiday.

Meal Periods and Breaks 

The below information is provided by the Colorado Department of Labor.

Meal Periods

Employees shall be entitled to an uninterrupted and duty-free meal period of at least a 30-minute duration when the shift exceeds five consecutive hours of work. Such meal periods, to the extent practical, shall be at least one hour after the start, and one hour before the end, of the shift. Employees must be completely relieved of all duties and permitted to pursue personal activities for a period to qualify as non-work, uncompensated time. When the nature of the business activity or other circumstances make an uninterrupted meal period impractical, the employee shall be permitted to consume an on-duty meal while performing duties. Employees shall be permitted to fully consume a meal of choice on the job and be fully compensated for the on-duty meal period without any loss of time or compensation.

Deductions For Meals

The reasonable cost or fair market value of meals provided to the employee, may be used as part of the minimum hourly wage. No profits to the employer may be included in the reasonable cost or fair market value of such meals furnished. Employee acceptance of a meal must be voluntary and uncoerced.

Rest Periods

Every employer shall authorize and permit a compensated 10-minute rest period for each 4 hours of work, or major fractions thereof, for all employees, as follows:

Work Hours Rest Periods Required
2 or fewer 0
Over 2, and up to 6 1
Over 6, and up to 10 2
Over 10, and up to 14 3
Over 14, and up to 18 4
Over 18, and up to 22 5
Over 22 6

To the extent practical, rest periods shall be in the middle of each 4-hour work period. It is not necessary that the employee leave the premises for a rest period. Please see COMPS Order #37 Rule 5.2 for more information about required Rest Periods.

Where required by law and in certain situations where the department deems appropriate, student employees may have a paid 10-minute rest period every 4 hours worked. At the supervisor’s discretion, the lunch period may be considered the break, if it falls within the four-hour timeframe. 

Please refer to the Colorado Department of Labor for additional information.

Period of Employment 

Students may work during the summer and after graduation if it is approved by their supervisor and is funded through the department. Work study funds may not be used during certain parts of the summer or after graduation. Students with work-study funding must follow specific guidelines related to the period of employment:  

  • The first day students can earn wages from their work-study award for the 2020-21 academic year is July 6, 2021.  
  • The last day for students to earn wages from their work-study award for the 2020-21 academic year for Law Students is May 20, 2021; Undergraduate/Graduate Students is June 8, 2021.  
  • Students should be registered for the fall quarter before beginning to earn wages from their work-study award.  
  • A student with a work-study award is not permitted to work using work study funds after they have graduated. The last day for a student to use their work-study award is the last day of finals for the student’s last term.  
  • F-1 and J-1 international students may not work on-campus after graduation unless they have received additional employment authorization from ISSS or the US government. Please see the ISSS website for more information.


We strongly do not recommend student employees to work more than 37.5 hours per week while enrolled fulltime. However, if a student employee works more than 40 hours in a work week (Monday– Sunday) or 12 hours in a single day, then the student must be compensated at a time and half pay rate.  

In accordance with the Federal work-study rules and regulations, work-study funds cannot be used to compensate a student for overtime hours. Therefore, your department will be 100% responsible for any overtime paid to all student employees. 

Volunteering at Work  

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, prohibits the University of Denver from accepting voluntary services from any paid employee. If a student is participating in a “Service Learning” course and the community service work-study program, they may not volunteer and work at the same agency.               

Student Employee Separation 

Employment at DU is at will, meaning that the employee or DU may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any or no reason, with or without advance notice. Because student employment is a learning, growth and development opportunity, we encourage alternative methods before reaching separationWe also encourage students to use best practices by giving supervisors ample notice of separation so they may prepare to transition position duties.  

For guidance on how to handle challenging behavior or conflicts before separating student employees, please contact stuemp@du.eduIf students have simply completed their period of employment with your department, contact to separate students with work study funding or follow these steps for students with non-work study funding.  

Supervisor Responsibilities  

  • Hire student employees using the hiring checklist and read the Student Employee Guidelines.  
  • Ensure your student employees complete required paperwork and training, including this video on PioneerTime 
  • Communicate expectations of the position to your student employees.  
  • Learn more about your student employees and their communication and feedback styles. Consider using this questionnaire as a starting point.  
  • Develop your student employee by encouraging them to attend Career & Professional Development programs and events or invite Student Employment to come to your staff meeting to provide training.  
  • Be open to change, growth and adjustments of your supervisory style. Develop your supervisory skills by attending training. Student Employee Supervisor Training coming soon.  
  • Encourage reflection from your student employee as it relates to the connection between their work and academics as well as diversity, equity and inclusion.  
  • When the position duration comes to an end, separate student employees in the appropriate system.  

Student Employee Responsibilities 

  • Read Student Employee Guidelines.
  • Complete required paperwork and suggested trainings.  
  • Watch PioneerTime training video and approve timecard bi-weekly.  
  • Learn more about your supervisor and their communication and feedback styles. Consider using this questionnaire as a starting point. 
  • Discuss what professionalism looks like with your supervisor and for the department you were hired.  
  • Communicate your work schedule early and often to your supervisor and honor commitments. 
  • Be open to change, growth and adjustments to your working style. Develop your professional skills by attending trainingsStudent Employee Training coming soon. Career & Professional Development events can be found here 
  • If resigning, give your supervisor adequate time to transition your position duties and hire a replacement.  
  • F-1 and J-1 international students should review the ISSS website and contact ISSS for questions related to their eligibility to work on campus.

Pay Rates and Compensation  

In effort to create a consistent and equitable pay scale for student employees across campus and to support the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, we recommend following the pay scale. This pay scale was informed by several sources, including research from universities nation-wide and HR Compensation.

Regardless of funding source, pay rate should be tied directly to the job performed and the experience required for the position. Pay rate should not be tied to work-study, grant, donation, or gift amount. In the case of a grant, donation, or gift, if there is excess funding after accounting for an hourly wage, please consider hiring multiple student employees. Or, if it is permitted from the source, please consider using these funds for the professional development of your employee, which includes conferences, training, memberships, and certifications.

The pay scale below adheres to policies provided by the Federal Work-Study Program (see Establishing Pay Rates, FWS Conditions & Limitations, Work on Campus), but does not include guidance on stipend compensation for Graduate Assistantships, which go through the Office of Graduate Education. Please contact the Office of Graduate Education with any questions about compensation for Graduate Assistantships. We recommend supervisors of student employees and student employees with Graduate Assistantships to still access resources and trainings from the Office of Student Employment.

If you are seeking a pay rate for your student employee that is above this scale, it will go through a compliance review process between Student Employment, Human Resources Compensation, and Financial Aid. Please contact Stacey Stevens (, Director of Student Employment, to get started.

Prior to selecting a rate, supervisors should contact their Division’s Business Officer for approval.

Student Employee Pay Rate Scale

Position Classification Minimum Rate Max Rate
Student Support I- Entry $15.00 $15.75
Student Support II- Intermediate $15.75 $16.50
Student Support III- Advanced $16.50 $17.25
Graduate Student Support $18.00 $18.75

Each position classification accounts for a $.25 increase per year, which can be implemented for returning student employees with stellar performance. A $.25 – $.75 increase within each classification represents a 1.6% – 5% raise per year, which matches both national and local market information.

Position Classification Guidance

To decide the appropriate classification, consider the below. Working titles differ from position classifications and may be more specific to the role duties and department activity. The working title is what will be use in the job posting on PCO. Sample working titles are included with each position classification description.

Student Support I- Entry

  • Little to no prior experience.
  • Education not required.
  • Extensive on-the-job training is needed.
  • Duties are routine or repetitive in nature. Processes and tasks are well established and explained in specific terms.
  • Limited independent judgement or decision-making is required.
  • Positions may begin at this level and move to another classification if job responsibilities change or increase.
  • Considerable supervision is needed. Goals are determined by the supervisor.
  • Graduate students may be hired into this classification if the duties align.
  • Sample working titles: Marketing Assistant, Payroll Assistant, AV Tech, Childcare Aide

Student Support II- Intermediate

  • Some previous experience or knowledge.
  • Some education preferred, but not required.
  • Specialized training needed, building off training previously received, or knowledge obtained.
  • Duties are varied and less routine. Processes and tasks require some independent thought.
  • Projects may include access to confidential data systems or information.
  • Moderate independent judgement or decision-making is needed.
  • Some positions may not move beyond this level.
  • Supervision is needed. Goals are set, but process of performing tasks may be co-crafted by the student employee and supervisor.
  • Graduate students may be hired into this classification if the duties align.
  • Sample working titles: Research Assistant (most of these positions are recommended to start at this classification), Accounting Assistant, Peer Advisor

Student Support III- Advanced

  • Prior experience and knowledge required.
  • Some education preferred, but not required.
  • Duties are consistently broad and varied.
  • Independent judgement and decision-making are required.
  • Students at this classification may supervise or direct the work of other student employees.
  • Supervision is needed. Goals are set, but process of performing tasks may be directed by the student employee.
  • Graduate students may be hired into this classification if the duties align.
  • Sample working titles: Desk Manager, Lead AV Tech, Payroll Lead, Lead Peer Advisor

Graduate Student Support

  • Requires one year of relevant or related experience or equivalent education.
  • Specialized knowledge or skills required.
  • Duties and projects may be highly complex.
  • Considerable independent judgement or decision-making is required.
  • Work is typically within the student’s field of study but is not required.
  • May include the supervision of other student employees and/or direction of work.
  • Limited supervision required. Tasks can be performed independently except for occasional complex situations or projects. Goals are set and may be directed by the student employee.
  • Sample working titles: Graduate Assistant, Graduate Research Assistant.

Posting Positions in PCO

The Office of Student Employment is recommending all on-campus positions be posted publicly on PCO, our internship & job database. This includes short-term assignments. This decision ensures the highest level of equitability, providing free and fair access to opportunities for our entire student population. This decision also removes the possibility of handpicking talent, which disproportionately impacts minoritized groups of students.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

Resources Referenced:
University of Denver Human Resources and Inclusive Community
University of Denver Financial Aid
Colorado Department of Labor
Dundes, L. & Marx, J. (2007). Balancing work and academics in college: Why do students working 10 to 19 hours per week excel? Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 8(1), 107-120.
Furr, S.R. & Elling, T.W. (2000). The influence of work on college student development. NASPA Journal, 37(2), 454-470.
McClellan, George; Creager, Kristina; Savoca, Marianna (2018). A good job.