Student Employment Guidelines
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
Through student employment, student employees will access learning and professional development opportunities, gain experience and obtain transferable, if not direct, skills. Student employees are students first and 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.
Student Employees Defined
Student Employees include undergraduate and graduate students, funded through a variety of sources to include department, work-study, external grants and/or donations, and graduate assistantships. Regardless of funding source, all student employees have access to the Office of Student Employment, trainings, and resources.
Keep in mind that undergraduate students and graduate students will conduct their job search differently. 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. For example, undergraduate students might not have as much work experience as graduate students, and your job postings, interviewing practices need to be tailored to fit the demands of each student type. Establishing the supervisory relationship between the supervisor and student employee is key to determining these nuances and defining expectations early.
With Student Employees, academics come first. You should anticipate experiencing challenges in areas such as recruitment, training, motivation, and retention. 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. If at any time you need support with this process, please contact Student Employment at email@example.com.
Graduate Assistantships provide graduate students with experience to pursue a career in their field of study. Graduate Assistantships recognized by the University are coordinated through the Office of Graduate Education. For information on University-recognized Graduate Assistantships, please check out the Graduate Assistantship Bulletin for 2021-22.
Federal work-study funding information can be reviewed in the “Federal Work-Study” section of this resource. In addition, please review the Work-Study Handbook for 2021-22.
A note on language:
You will notice throughout this guide we use the term “student employee” to describe students who work on-campus. The term student employee encompasses all funding sources. It’s also important to keep in mind that when a student is called “a work-study” formally and publicly, financial need is revealed.
We encourage supervisors to begin using “student employee” when referring to their employees. Where policies differ based on funding sources, this resource will state “work-study funded student” or “non-work study funded student”.
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.
Some student employee positions on campus have qualification requirements in addition to eligibility to work in the US, such as: citizenship, FAFSA completion, credit hours, and being enrolled in a particular program. For example, students interested in work-study funding, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The eligibility requirements for graduate assistants (GXAs) can be found in the Graduate Assistantship section of the Graduate Bulletin.
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.
If you applied for financial aid and work-study was not included in your financial aid offer, you may request to be added to the waitlist by sending an email to email@example.com. For more information on Federal Work-Study, please check out work-study information for undergraduate and graduate students on the Financial Aid website. We recommend reviewing the Work-Study Handbook, an in-depth guide on the work-study program. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Graduate Assistantships (GXAs)
Departments assign graduate assistantship positions to eligible students according to the guidelines below. Regardless of terminology a unit or department may use to describe these positions (GXA, GSA, GA, GTI, RSA, etc.,) the University recognizes only three official assistantship types: Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), Graduate Service Assistantship (GSA) and Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA). Assistantships can be in support of teaching assignments, general administrative duties, or research. These policies and guidelines apply to GTAs, GSAs and GRAs except where specified and must be adhered to by all graduate colleges, schools, departments and recipients.
Please refer to the Graduate Bulletin for 2020-21 for more information.
- Develop or update a job description for each position in PCO.
- Post job openings in PCO and recruit students for open positions.
- Conduct interviews in a timely manner.
- Communicate hiring decisions with the candidate pool.
- 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.
- Encourage reflection from your student employee as it relates to the connection between their work and academics as well as diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Review and approve timecards.
- Monitor work-study award earnings (for work-study funded students only).
- Complete annual Performance Evaluations.
- When the position duration comes to an end, separate student employees in the appropriate system. Reach our to your HR Partner if you need assistance with disciplinary issues.
Student Employee Responsibilities
- Complete New Student Employee Orientation in Canvas. You are auto-enrolled in this course on your start date.
- 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 trainings.
- If resigning, give your supervisor adequate time (2 weeks or more) 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.
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 summer and 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 without a formalized process, which disproportionately impacts marginalized groups of students.
Special considerations will be made for positions switching funding sources or changing from academic credit to funding during break periods. A posting is not necessary for students returning to the same position after a short break (ex: winter or summer break). If the position is a promotion, we ask that it is posted. Special considerations will also be made for students who are released due to unexpected loss of work and/or department funding (ex. budget constraints during COVID). In these cases, Student Employment can help support students’ transition and application process to new positions on-campus. Supervisors should contact Student Employment at email@example.com for all special considerations.
Equal Pay for Equal Work Act
- As of January 1, 2021, employers posting internships or jobs within the State of Colorado must comply with the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. The University of Denver reserves the right to remove any postings that do not meet those requirements.
- Please review the language of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, the Equal Pay Transparency Rules, the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics Interpretative Notice & Formal Opinion #9, and consult with your organization’s human resources or legal department.
- If you have any questions, reference The University of Denver Equal Pay for Equal Work Act FAQs.
Resume Requirement for Students
Please note all resumes submitted through PCO will go through an automatic review process by the Career & Professional Development staff. While this may take extra time if revisions are needed, it’s to support students in submitting the most competitive application possible. A quality resume will help students now and in the future.
Please allow at least 3 days before the application deadline for this step. Students will not be able to submit their full application until the resume has been reviewed and approved. Due to the expected volume of applications, we ask students do not wait until right before the deadline to apply as their resume could be delayed in the review process.
Pay Rates, Timekeeping, and Payroll
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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.
PioneerTime is used to track time. Student employees’ time must be approved by their supervisor by 4:00pm on the Monday prior to the Friday pay date. Supervisors and Student Employees should view the PioneerTime Video Series.
Students can enter their time in PioneerTime in two different ways depending on convenience for the student:
1. PioneerTime Terminal Locations
2. Through the Web Based Application.
Supervisors can track student’s time entry daily. This allows supervisors to keep up with their student’s time and correct any issues more frequently rather than leaving all corrections closer to the approval deadline. Please note timecards expire after 120 days of inactivity.
Work-Study 2021-22 Payroll Calendar
|Bi-Weekly (BW) Pay Period||Start Date||End Date||Pay Date|
*May 19th – Last Day for Law to work
*June 9th – Last Day for UG/GR to work
All Other Student Employees 2021 Payroll Calendar
Shared Services Payroll Calendar (does not include GXAs)
Off-Campus Employers (Work-Study)
Time approval emails are requested to be emailed to email@example.com for all off campus work study students. We will request these on a bi-weekly basis to verify the time imputed in PioneerTime by the student.
Direct Deposit and Paychecks
Student employees have two options for receiving their earned wages: 1. Direct Deposit, or 2. Paychecks will be mailed to the address the University has on file for the student (often the student’s home address not local address).
It is highly recommended that all student employees enroll for Direct Deposit. To enroll in Direct Deposit a student must complete the online form “Paycheck Direct Deposit” available under the Employee tab on the student’s PioneerWeb.
Money earned as a student employee is subject to state and federal taxation. W-4: Federal and state tax withholding is calculated from information provided on the student’s W-4. W-2: Students can view and print University issued W-2’s under the Employee tab on the student’s PioneerWeb. All University employees contribute to Social Security as a requirement of the Federal Insurance Compensation
Period of Employment and Important Dates
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. GXAs funds may not be used during the summer. View the DU Academic Calendar here.
Students with work-study funding must follow specific guidelines related to the period of employment:
- 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.
2020-21 Work-Study Funding
- The last day students can use their 2020-21 work-study award for their positions is June 8, 2021 for the quarter system and May 20, 2021 for the semester system (Sturm College of Law).
- All work-study positions will be closed at the end of these respective days.
- Please be sure to submit and approve hours in PioneerTime before 3 p.m. on June 8 and May 20.
2021-22 Work- Study Funding
- Work-study award hiring requests can be submitted in PioneerWeb on July 1, 2021 and no earlier. Student may begin work as soon as the hiring request is approved and during the week of July 5.
- If supervisors need student employees between the end of the work-study award funding for this academic year and July 5, supervisors must hire using their departmental budget.
The University of Denver is committed to the philosophy that academic pursuits come before all else. To support students, we strongly advise 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 school is in session. Please see the ISSS website for more information.
A graduate student cannot hold more than the equivalent of one full-time assistantship (GTA, GSA and/or GRA). Full-time is normally defined as 20 hours per week (1.0 FTE). See the Graduate Assistantship section of the Graduate Bulletin for more employment restrictions related to graduate assistantships. 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.
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.
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).
During University holidays, students may work 37.5 hours per week. We ask that student employees do not work 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.
In accordance with the federal work-study rules and regulations, work-study funded students cannot receive a higher wage for work performed on a holiday.
Meal Periods and Breaks
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.
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|
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.
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
If students have simply completed their period of employment with your department, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to separate students with work study funding or follow these steps for students with non-work study funding. We also encourage students to use best practices by giving supervisors 2-week notice of separation so they may prepare to transition position duties.
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 separation. For guidance on how to handle challenging behavior or conflicts before separating student employees, please connect with your HR Partner.
For all separations, voluntary and involuntary, we ask student employees complete an exit survey with their HR Partner. If you are a student employee, please connect with your HR Partner to obtain the exit survey.
Student Employment offers the following guidelines for dealing with disciplinary issues with student employees:
1. Verbal Discussion
Student employees should receive an initial, verbal conversation from their immediate supervisor. Student employees should be afforded the opportunity to correct and learn from mistakes that are being made. In this conversation the supervisor should seek to understand from the employee why the mistakes are occurring. The supervisor should also determine if remedial training is needed to assist the employee in performance. Supervisors should check in with employee after initial conversation to provide additional guidance/support if needed.
2. Written Statement
If the above verbal discussions do not lead to improved performance it is recommended that student employees should receive a written warning outlining all infractions and possible ways to remedy the problem. The improvement required should be specific and time bound. Student employee positions are real jobs and, therefore, a written warning is professional and just.
In the event that termination is necessary, the supervisor should contact their HR Partner for guidance.
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.