1. How to Create a Job

  2. Hiring Students

  3. Student Orientation

  4. Penn Works Codes

  5. Reporting Student Hours

  6. Grievance Procedures

  7. Termination of Employment

  8. Auditing of Federal Work-Study

  9. Verification of Employment

  10. Retention of Records

  11. Frequently Asked Questions


1. How to Create a Job

Student Employment Management System (SEMS)
A work-study student may only work for a supervisor who has a SEMS account and job listing. The Student Employment Management System (SEMS) is the method by which faculty and staff can create and post work-study and/or non-work-study jobs online.

In the lower right-hand corner click Login to SEMS.  On the next screen “click here to create an account.”  Then click Penn-Affiliated Employer.  This will take you to the Account Registration screen where you will complete your profile.  Once the profile is complete, you will automatically enter the homepage of your SEMS account.  To create a job, click Jobs in the menu bar.  On the next screen select the Period (academic year or summer), and then click Create New Job.

The use of work-study student labor on non-University or personal projects is considered a misuse of federal or University funds and is forbidden. Violators will be subject to University sanctions and penalties.

Federal Work-Study Community Service
Federal Work-Study students are encouraged to pursue employment that is community service related. Community service positions contribute to the improvement in the quality of life for area residents by helping solve particular problems related to their needs. Job categories that are considered community service include:

  • Health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutorial service), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development, community improvement, and emergency preparedness and response.

  • Support services to enrolled students with disabilities (including students with disabilities who are enrolled at school).

  • Activities in which a student serves as a mentor for purposes such as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities, and counseling, including career counseling.

The U.S. Department of Education has clarified the issue of the acceptability of indirect community service positions as follows:

  • Students may be employed in community service positions that provide either direct or indirect services to the community. For example, it is acceptable for a Federal Work-Study student to be employed in a clerical position for a food bank. It is not required that the student be involved in delivering services directly.

  • Both on-campus and off-campus jobs can qualify as community service work.

However, on-campus jobs must involve a program, project, or service that is provided to the general public in the local community. On-campus jobs that serve only the campus community do not qualify as community service employment. All off-campus jobs, including community service jobs require a contract, which contains a description of the job and the conditions for employment.

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2. Hiring Students

Work-Study Students
The supervisor must request a copy of the student’s class schedule at the time of the interview in order to ensure there is no conflict between class times and the work schedule.

Once you have chosen the student to hire, the supervisor will login to the Student Employment Management System (SEMS) and click Students in the menu.  On the next screen enter the student’s Penn ID number in the Student Lookup field. The student’s name and award will appear on the Student Details screen.  Click appoint at the top of the screen.
An e-mail confirming the student's job appointment will be sent to the student, supervisor, and department SEMS coordinator.

New student employees are required to complete a W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). Your employing department's business administrator will instruct the student accordingly.

International Students
International students are limited to on-campus employment, which is defined as working for Penn, on Penn Payroll, and on Penn premises.

New international student employees need a valid Social Security Number in order to work in the United States.  The instructions and application for Social Security: On-Campus Work Authorization for F-1 and J-1 Students is available on the International Student and Scholar Services website.  After applying for a Social Security Number, it generally takes 10 business days for your card to arrive, so plan accordingly.

In addition to completing the W-4 and I-9 forms, new international student employees must also present the following documents to the employing department's business administrator:

  • FNIF (Completed Foreign National Information Form) is available here.
  • Social Security Card (Copy of Social Security Card or copy of the receipt for application for a Social Security Number - Form 5028)
  • Foreign Passport
  • I-94 (Copy of INS arrival/departure record)
  • I-20 (Copy of INS Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student OR
  • DS-2019 (Copy of INS Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) status and written work authorization from OIP-ISSS (valid up to 12 months at a time)

Student Workers (non-work-study)
The appointment of a non-work-study job is handled directly by the employing department's business administrator. New student employees are required to complete a W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). Your department's business administrator will instruct the student accordingly.

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It is the supervisor's responsibility to familiarize the student employee with the departmental standards of behavior and to make sure the student receives proper training in order to accomplish the tasks assigned.
We recommend that the supervisor review the following topics with the student:

  • Review the job responsibilities so there is a clear understanding of what is expected of the student

  • Review issues of confidentiality and sensitive information

  • Safety and health practices (if applicable)

  • Use of personal electronic devices

  • University Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources

  • In the event of the supervisor's absence, what other staff member can the student direct problems or questions


4. Penn Work Codes

Academic Year - Penn/Federal Work-Study
Job Class Code: 515370: Used for work-study jobs designated community service.
Job Class Code: 515374: Used for all other work-study jobs.
Object Code: 5139
Earnings Type: WSR

Academic Year - International Student Work-Study
Job Class Code: 599072
Object Code: 5134
Earnings Type: SW1

Summer – Federal Work-StudyIn Class
Job Class Code: 515375
Object Code: 5139
Earnings Type: WSR

Summer – Federal Work-StudyNot In Class
Job Class Code: 515375
Object Code: 5139
Earnings Type: WS2

Student Worker A - In Class
Job Class Code: 599070
Object Code: 5134
Earnings Type: SW1

Student Worker B – Not In Class
Job Class Code: 599071
Object Code: 5134
Earnings Type: SW2


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5. Reporting Student Hours

Time Reporting
The web-based application e-timesheets are used for non-exempt employees, including students, to submit their weekly hours electronically. A student’s hours cannot be held for a period of time, and then submitted all at once. University regulations require that a student employee must be paid weekly. The employing department will instruct the student regarding the procedures for completing the weekly e-timesheet.

A student cannot be paid for lunch, holidays, sick time, and other time off, or for receiving instruction in the classroom, laboratory, or other academic setting.

Payroll Taxes
Work-Study wages are subject to the same federal, state, and local income taxes as any other earned income. However, students enrolled in classes and working for the University are exempt from the 6.20% Social Security (FICA) Tax and 1.45% Medicare Tax deductions.

International students have the same taxes withheld that United States students do. Students that are from a country that has a tax treaty with the United States may be able to claim a refund of the taxes withheld when they file their yearly income tax returns. If the student has any questions regarding taxation, the student may go to the Payroll Tax Office, Room 310 of the Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street. The service window hours are Monday through Friday, from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Wage Rate Increase
The supervisor may increase the student's wage rate at the time of the appointment to a job number, up to the SEMS maximum wage rate of $13.00 per hour.
If the wage rate increase occurs after the initial job appointment, or the increase exceeds the SEMS limit of $13.00 per hour, the supervisor must submit the request to the department's business administrator for approval.

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A student and supervisor are encouraged to discuss any work-related problems. Experience has shown that most minor disagreements can be resolved by honest, non-confrontational discussion of the problem. An attempt should be made to informally resolve the disagreement between the student and the immediate supervisor. If the problem cannot be resolved within the department, the student should make an appointment with the Manager of the Student Employment to discuss the problem. Depending on the problem, a student may be referred to another University office for advice and resolution.


If a student is unreliable or does not perform assigned duties responsibly, it may be necessary to terminate the student's employment. A student should be treated fairly and courteously, as would any full-time employee. In most cases, the following disciplinary guidelines are suggested in dealing with unsatisfactory performance. Keep in mind that learning also occurs outside the classroom.

  • Verbal Warning - Speak with the student and give specific reasons for the dissatisfaction as well as suggest solutions for improving job performance. Give the student a time frame for improvement.
  • Written Warning - If the poor performance continues past the time established in the verbal warning, repeat the verbal warning and follow it with a written statement documenting the situation and a new time frame for improvement. A Performance Review Form is available under Forms on the Student Employment website.
  • Termination - If the student's performance still does not improve within the specified time frame, the supervisor may terminate the student's employment. Notice of dismissal should be in writing, and a copy sent to the Manager of Student Employment. DO NOT terminate a student on Penn Works for cause. This is not the venue for dealing with student conduct in the workplace.


8. Auditing of Federal Work-Study

Federal Title IV regulations require an annual audit of the Federal Work-Study Program. One segment of this review is to ensure that students are correctly paid and that time reporting is properly monitored and certified by the appropriate supervisor.

Failure to comply with the above mentioned policy and procedures will result in the department having to reimburse the Federal Work-Study account for all applicable student wages. If there is continued failure on the part of the department to comply, then the department will have its privilege of employing Federal Work-Study students suspended.


9. Verification of Employment

The Division of Human Resources/Information Management/Records maintains personnel records for all present and past employees, including student employees.

Verification requests received by mail and accompanied by written consent should be forwarded to Human Resources/Records, 600 Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street/6205, for inclusion in the student's employment files.

If a call is received by a department from an outside employer seeking employment verification, please instruct the employer to call The Work Number for Everyone at 1-800-996-7566, or go to the website at 


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10. Retention of Records

Regulations require that all records supporting federal programs, including the Federal Work-Study Program, must be retained for three years after the end of the award year (academic or summer) for which the aid was awarded and disbursed under the program. Therefore, it is necessary for each department to retain all supporting documents and records for that amount of time.


11. Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Jobs May A Student Have?

While it is preferred that a student have one job, we recognize the need for a student to work an adequate number of hours per week (within established limits) in order to cover expenses. A student's number one priority is academic achievement.

The Student Employment Management System (SEMS) can only post two job appointments at any given time.  Therefore, a student is limited to two jobs at any given time. 
A student must have permission from their supervisor and business administrator at the first job before seeking a second job. The supervisor and business administrator has the right to deny the student's request to work at a second job.  Their decision is final.

How Many Hours Can A Student Work Per Week?

A student's primary responsibility is their academic achievement and work cannot be a priority.
When classes are in session, students (full-time or part-time) are not permitted to work more than a total of 20 hours per week.

When classes are officially not in session, students (full-time or part-time) are not permitted to work more than a total of 40 hours per week. A student is required to take an unpaid break or lunch of at least one-half hour after five consecutive hours of work.

During school breaks (Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring), international students with an F-1 Visa may work full-time (i.e., over 20 hours per week, up to a maximum of 40 hours).

Does a Student Receive Benefits?

Student employees are not eligible for benefits such as sick pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, or unemployment compensation, but are eligible for Workers' Compensation under the provisions of Pennsylvania law. Workers' Compensation covers expenses for medical care from job-related injuries or occupational diseases sustained in the course of employment. A student who suffers a work related injury must report it immediately to their immediate supervisor. The supervisor must report on-the-job injuries to the department's business administrator promptly.

Withdrawal/Leave of Absence

A student must be removed from the work-study payroll for the following reasons:

  • Graduates
  • Withdraws from the University
  • On leave of absence
  • Dismissed or suspended for academic or conduct reasons

What is the Procedure for Changing or Leaving a Job?

An employed student who intends to withdraw from the program, or who wishes to change jobs within the semester, must inform their supervisor. A student is expected to give at least one week's notice before leaving a position. This gives the department the necessary time to find a replacement for the student, or to adjust the work schedules of remaining employees in order to offset the staffing shortage. Releasing a student from a job is done online by the supervisor. An e-mail confirming the student's release will be sent to the department's SEMS coordinator.
Withdrawal from the program will not jeopardize a student's chances of receiving work-study eligibility in future years.

What is the Attendance and Attire Policy?

It is the student's responsibility to report to work on time for every scheduled shift. If the student cannot work because of an illness, emergency, or will be late for work, the supervisor must be notified as early as possible before the shift begins. Potential conflicts should be discussed well in advance with the supervisor. Continued tardiness and failure to provide adequate prior notice of absence as determined by the supervisor are considered grounds for termination.
Requirements for attire are determined at the direction of the employing department.

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