Frequently Asked Questions from Student Employees

Answers to frequently asked questions from student employees are found below. If you have additional questions that are not answered here, please feel free to contact the Office of Student Employment by calling (415) 422-6770 or emailing StuEmp@usfca.edu. You may also visit us in person at Lone Mountain Main, Room 203.


► General Questions

USF students enrolled full-time in a degree-granting program who are authorized to work in the United States.

Full-time staff and/or faculty members enrolled in a degree-granting program at USF are not eligible to work in student employment assignments.

Two types of student employment are available at USF: Federal Work-Study (FWS) and non-work-study employment. The first type of employment is a form of financial aid. That is, if you applied for financial aid, have high financial need, and have indicated your interest in the Federal Work-Study program, then you may receive a FWS award on your offer of financial aid from USF. The second type of employment is employment that does not require you to have a need-based work award. 

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education and grants a student priority consideration for employment. Non-work-study student employment is funded by the hiring department. There is no differential pay rate, hours, or benefits. There is a difference, however, in the priority granted to students who are seeking employment. 

When hiring managers have two or more equally qualified candidates for a position, priority consideration for the position is granted in the following way: (1) to the FWS student, and (2) to the student without a need-based work award. 

Although financial aid applicants must report student employment earnings on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), earnings from a FWS position may be reported as need-based earnings so as not to count against the calculation of need for financial aid. 

If you have a need-based work award (a FWS award), then you may only earn funds during the academic year (fall through spring). However, your hiring department may choose to allow you to continue working through the summer break under a non-need-based work classification. Likewise, if you earn the total amount of your work award prior to the end of summer semester, your hiring department may convert your employment type to non-need-based. If you do not have a need-based work award, then your employment may continue beyond the academic year if your supervisor chooses to extend your employment.

A Federal Work-Study (FWS) award is a Federal Student Aid program that supports student employment for college students. Direct support is provided in the form of a financial subsidy to the hiring department. Currently, the FWS program at USF subsidizes 75% of the wages a work-study student earns in an on-campus FWS position and, most often, 100% of the wages a work-study student earns in an off-campus FWS position. This subsidy reduces the amount paid by the hiring department or employer. The total amount you may earn with a work-study award is determined by the USF Financial Aid Office. Your financial aid award letter will inform you if you have received a FWS award.

Under the FWS program, student gross earnings are limited to the amount awarded on the financial aid award letter. If the award is earned in-full before the end of the academic year, the supervisor must agree to convert the job into a non-Work-Study position or the work must be terminated. If you have a FWS award, we recommend you estimate your hours with your supervisor at the beginning of the year to anticipate when the full award will be earned and to discuss what to expect when the award is exhausted. If your hiring department does not have funds to convert your job to a non-Work-Study position, you may request an increase in your award amount by sending a written appeal to stuemp@usfca.edu. Eligibility for an award increase depends on your remaining financial need as well as available funding; therefore, not all requests may be granted.

Before you make a commitment to an agency, you must consult the Student Employment Office to make sure the position and agency you have in mind meets the FWS program eligibility requirements. The employment agency must complete or have on file a Federal Work-Study agreement with USF along with additional paperwork pertaining to your individual position. Employment may not begin until the position and agency is approved by the Student Employment Office. Information on how to set up a Work-Study position may be obtained at the Student Employment Office, located at Lone Mountain, room 203, or by calling (415) 422-6770.

To be considered for a FWS award, you must apply for financial aid, demonstrate sufficient financial need, and indicate your interest in Federal Work-Study on your FAFSA. You cannot receive FWS award without applying for financial aid.

To apply for financial aid, students will submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

On-campus jobs are available through the various University administrative offices and academic departments and include a range of duties such as administrative assistance, technology support, events management, and lab assistance. Nearly every department on campus hires student employees. 

Off-campus jobs are available to Federal Work-Study recipients and can be in government or non-profit organizations with an active contract with the University. Examples of Federal Work-Study off-campus organizations include various public schools participating in the University's America Reads Program, Jamestown Community Center, San Francisco Day School, CollegeTrack and Huckleberry Youth Foundation. If you are interested in setting up your own off campus Federal Work-Study position, please contact the Student Employment Office at (415) 422-6770 or stuemp@usfca.edu.

The USF Student Employment Office posts on-campus and off-campus positions on the job listings page of the USF website. This page is updated on a regular basis as positions become available and as employers fill open positions. 

The following is an outline of the steps you can take to find employment:

  1. View the USF student job listings.
  2. Apply for one or more positions according to the instructions provided on a job listing.
  3. If needed, follow up directly with the department to which you applied.
  4. Once you’ve received a job offer, complete the onboarding tasks on your USFWorks account and get your original I-9 documentation verified by visiting the Student Employment Office in Lone Mountain Main #203. This step must be completed in person on or before your first day of employment.
  5. You will receive a work clearance from USFCA via email after completing all onboarding tasks, and then you are cleared to begin work.

► next steps for new hires

USFWorks, or Workday, is USF's employment software. Your USFWorks account will house your employment records and be used to complete all new-hire requirements, log time entries, request absence, and more.

Your employment requirements, also referred to as your onboarding tasks, are completed in USFWorks after you have been successfully hired. These include entering your Social Security Number, setting up your tax withholding elections, choosing between physical paychecks or Direct Deposit, and more. For detailed instructions and helpful information, review our New Hire Checklist.

Students who have been hired into their first job at USF will complete all employment requirements in their temporary USFWorks account. For more information, consult the onboarding emails received from USFCA. The final requirement is presenting original documents to support your Form I-9 submission, confirming your employment eligibility with USF's Office of Student Employment. When your onboarding is complete and employment is authorized, you will then access USFWorks for Student Employee via the myApps portal and can begin working.

Once rehired, returning student workers will complete their onboarding tasks by accessing USFWorks for Student Employee from the myApps portal. When all 10 tasks are submitted and on or before your first day of work, contact the Office of Student Employment to confirm that a valid Form I-9 is on file for your employment.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-9 is a standard Human Resources form. It is a legal document that verifies your identity and employment eligibility. You are required to complete the Form I-9 on or before your first day of work. In order to complete a Form I-9, you must present documents that verify your identity and your employment eligibility to a Student Employment representative, and this must be completed in person.

The list of acceptable documents as well as detailed information and instructions are available on our Student I-9 page.

If you are an international student, you will need to apply for a Social Security number as soon as you obtain a job. USF requires that you have a Social Security number so that your earnings can be reported to the Internal Revenue Service. More information on applying for a Social Security number is available on the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website. For a detailed checklist, see our International Student Employee Checklist.

You may also wish to complete the optional profile with Sprintax TDS (Tax Determination System). Completion of this profile will determine whether a tax treaty is available between your native country and the U.S. that may lessen the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck. Although a tax treaty is not guaranteed, completing the Sprintax TDS profile can also assist in other ways. For more information, contact USF's Office of Tax Compliance.

► What to expect while working

Accepting a position involves a commitment. Your primary role is that of a student, but you have certain responsibilities and obligations to your employer. You are a member of a working unit that depends on you. At minimum, your responsibilities are to:

  1. Report to work promptly
  2. Notify your supervisor as soon as possible when you will be late or unable to work
  3. Refrain from conducting personal business on the job
  4. Report accurately the hours you have worked
  5. Perform your task to the best of your ability
  6. Dress appropriately for your job location
  7. Take your job seriously
  8. Student employment is more than merely earning money to offset your educational expense. The work experience you gain can be invaluable.

On the average, most students work between 12-20 hours per week. While classes are in session, USF student employment policy limits student employee schedules to a maximum of: 

25 hours per week for domestic/permanent resident students
20 hours per week for international students 

During the summer session and breaks, all student schedules are limited to a maximum of 35 hours per week. Please note that students are also limited to 7.5 hours in a single day.

The work week begins at 12:00am on Monday, and ends at 11:59pm on Sunday. To avoid overtime charges to your department, you should not work more than 6 consecutive days in any combination of on-campus jobs.

These limits apply to any on-campus job or off-campus FWS job, or combination of on-campus (and off-campus FWS) jobs.

Yes, through non-work-study employment. That is, you may only have one federal work study position but may hold a 2nd position that is paid through non-work-study. The University recommends, however, that you limit your employment to one position that meets your needs. Keep in mind that while classes are in session you may only work up to a maximum of 25 hours per week if you are a domestic student and up to 20 hours if you are an international student. Also, note that most employers prefer at least a 2-3 hour block of work time since productivity increases with shifts that are at least that long.

In the State of California, employers are required to give each employee at least ten (10) minutes paid break for each four (4) hours worked. While 10 minutes is the state required minimum, USF grants a standard 15-minute break for each four (4) hours worked.

If an employee works 3 ½ hours or less, it is not required that a break be given.

If an employee works for a period of more than five (5) hours, the employer must provide an unpaid, off-duty meal period of at least thirty (30) minutes.

When a work period of not more than six (6) hours will complete the day's work, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee.

At USF, if an employee will work a full 7.5 hour work day, the meal break must be taken before the start of the 6th hour of the shift.

There is no guarantee of employment; however, students with need-based work awards are given priority consideration during the hiring process. If you are having difficulty finding a job on-campus, you are encouraged to utilize the counseling services offered by the USF Career Services Center or The Writing Center to develop a resume, learn to write a cover letter, and practice interviewing skills. Most positions are posted and filled within the first few weeks of classes each fall, but job openings do occur throughout the year, so we encourage you to monitor the job posting board on a regular basis. Be sure to follow up directly with the hiring departments for more information about a job posting and its availability.

There is no guarantee of continued employment. Continued employment is contingent upon many factors, such as departmental budgets and satisfactory performance. Student assignments typically terminate at the end of the academic year (mid-May). You are encouraged to discuss the possibility of continued employment into the summer and/or the next academic year with your supervisor. If at any time your supervisor decides that your performance is not satisfactory, you may be released from employment.

If you and your supervisor are having difficulties, consult the Office of Student Employment. The Student Employment Office provides assistance in all stages of the student employment process and is here to support student employees and supervisors alike.

Individual hiring supervisors may expect a student employee to work through the academic year. You and your supervisor may determine a specific work schedule upon hire, not to exceed your employment eligibility period. If changes in class schedule, academic pressures, or volume of work in the department make a work commitment impossible, and you feel that it is necessary to terminate your employment, please speak to your supervisor. If you decide to terminate your employment, provide a minimum two-week notice along with the reason for the termination of your assignment.

Yes, before the end of the spring semester, all supervisors are asked to complete a performance evaluation for each of their student employees. The performance evaluation is not only used to evaluate your work, but it is also used to determine your eligibility for rehire.

► compensation and Payroll Questions

After you are hired and have been successfully added to USF Payroll by completing all onboarding requirements, you will complete timesheets through USFWorks. PDF instructions can be found in our Timesheets & Benefits guide. 

Timesheets are due on the 15th and the last day of every month. Be sure to submit your timesheets by the deadline each period.

The Student Employment Office establishes wage guidelines for on-campus hiring departments based on the duties and qualifications of the position. The department uses these guidelines to determine where the position fits within the student salary schedule. Generally, positions which require more technical and specialized skills, or which require specific work experience, or greater levels of responsibility are compensated at higher rates of pay. As of July 1, 2021, San Francisco's minimum wage increased to $16.32/hour.

You are paid semi-monthly. Pay days are normally on the 7th and 22nd of the month. Should the pay day fall on a weekend or holiday, your direct deposit will be issued the previous business day.

All student employment earnings are considered taxable by the IRS. By default, a portion of your earnings will be withheld from each paycheck and sent to the IRS as income tax. During your USFWorks onboarding process, you will complete a digital copy of both the Form W-4 (federal withholdings) and the Form DE-4 (state & local withholdings). 

You can adjust the amount withheld from your paychecks by choosing Manage Payment Elections in the Pay application found on your USFWorks homepage.

Other taxes, such as Medicare and Social Security taxes are generally assessed only during the summer, when students may be enrolled less than full time.

► Benefits questions

Yes, eligible students can receive paid sick leave. The San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance allows student employees working within San Francisco County to accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 72 hours. Paid sick leave begins to accrue upon your first day of work. Eligible sick leave should be reported on your timesheet and approved by your supervisor. Assuming you have accrued enough sick-leave to do so, you may request sick pay for up to the full scheduled work shift that was missed but no further.  

If you need to take more than 3 days of paid leave, assuming you have accrued enough time to do so, your supervisor may require a doctor's note to verify the necessity of your absence.

Additional notes regarding paid sick leave:

Student employees are not paid out for unused sick-leave at the end of a job assignment or upon graduating or leaving the University.

Within the County of San Francisco: 1) Employers must provide paid sick leave for part-time employees, including all student employees; 2) Employees may use paid leave for their own medical needs and to care for family members; and 3) Employees with no spouse or partner may use the leave to care for a "designated person."

Sick leave may be used for the following reasons:

  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of an employee or an employee’s family member (self, child, parent, in loco parentis, spouse, registered domestic partner, or designated person, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, and legal guardians and wards)
  • Preventive medical care for an employee or an employee’s family member
  • Leave for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking

The University prefers that all employees schedule medical appointments outside normal working hours. However, if it is impossible to do so, sick leave may be used for medical appointments and advance notice should be given to the employee’s supervisor.

Only accrued time can be used and must be approved by the employee’s supervisor. If the need to use sick leave is foreseeable, employees must provide reasonable advance notice of absence to their supervisor. For unpredictable situations, such as emergencies, accidents, or sudden illnesses, employees must provide notice as soon as practicable. Specifically:

  • All student staff should inform their supervisor if they cannot work due to illness and record the sick hours in USFWorks.
  • Student staff can visit the Timesheets & Benefits guide (pgs. 17 - 19) for detailed instructions on reporting sick leave.

Sick leave of less than three days normally requires no verification; however, supervisors may request appropriate documentation from a student employee, depending on the circumstances or absenteeism history.

With the passage of Senate Bill 114, employees may be eligible for up to 80 hours of COVID-related paid sick leave effective Feb. 19 – Dec. 31, 2022, with up to 40 of those hours available only when an employee or family member tests positive for COVID-19.

Part-time employees (such as student employees) are eligible for a pro-rated amount.

Employees who are unable to work or telework due to one of the below qualifying reasons can request time off using the absence type "CA COVID Hours."

  • Vaccine-Related: The covered employee is attending a vaccine or booster appointment for themselves or a family member* or cannot work or telework because they have vaccine-related symptoms or are caring for a family member with vaccine-related symptoms. An employer may limit an employee to 24 hours or 3 days of leave for each vaccination or booster appointment and any consequent side effects unless a health care provider verifies that more recovery time is needed. 
  • Caring for Yourself: The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidance of the California Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local public health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace; has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine; or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. 
  • Caring for a Family Member*: The covered employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation period or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises. OR if the employee is unable to work or telework, because the employee has tested positive for COVID-19 or the employee, is caring for a family member* who tested positive for COVID-19. * A family member includes a child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.

Employees who took sick, vacation, or unpaid time from Jan. 1 until the effective date may request to change those hours if they had a qualifying reason and should submit their request in Workday. Please review the HR Supplemental COVID Sick Leave FAQ.

For additional information, please review the State of California Poster and Office of the Labor Commissioner's FAQ. If you have questions about this information, please contact leaves@usfca.edu.  

The San Francisco HCSO requires Covered Employers, like USF, to satisfy an Employer Spending Requirement (ESR) by making a health care expenditure for Covered Employees when they meet the HSCO eligibility criteria.

For those who have been employed with the university for more than 90 days and who regularly work at least 8 hours per week, USF will make a quarterly healthcare expenditure on behalf of the employee. As of January 1, 2022, the healthcare expenditure rate is $3.30 per payable hour, which has increased from $3.18 per hour in 2021. If USF makes a contribution on your behalf, you will receive a SF City Option welcome letter and instructions to enroll in an SF City Option health care program.

Once you are enrolled, you may start spending funds for eligible health care expenses. If you already have employer-provided health coverage as either an employee of another company or as a dependent of another person, you may complete and submit a Voluntary Waiver Form and receive a $125 credit (taxable income) to your next paycheck.

For more information, review HR's SFHCSO FAQ the SF City Option's Employee FAQ.