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Supervisor's Guide for Work-Study

University wage-payroll employment is not the same as employment through Federal Work-Study (wage-payroll employees are paid entirely by the hiring department). Contact the Office of Student Aid to advertise a wage-payroll position on the Office of Student Aid website.

The following information contains basic guidelines for hiring and supervising work-study students through the Federal Work-Study Program.


All departments participating in the Federal Work-Study Program must submit a job proposal. Positions are posted on the Penn State job search website. A few things to keep in mind when considering participation in the program:

  • New positions may be added at any time
  • Existing positions must be updated annually for the upcoming academic year (this may occur up to one year in advance)
  • Approved job proposals are not guarantees that the jobs will be filled
  • Job supervisors may interview any student who has a Federal Work-Study award; however, supervisors are not permitted to hire members of their immediate families

Students are not authorized to begin working until they are officially hired by a supervisor. If a student works prior to an official hire or exceeds his or her award amount, the department is required to fund 100 percent of pay for the student's hours worked. Additional details are available in the Manual.

Students must be hired by the end of the second week of fall semester classes or their work-study award will be canceled.

Nittany Lions Read/Nittany Lions Count

The Nittany Lions Read/Nittany Lions Count provides students with part-time employment on or off-campus that provides additional support to teachers, caregivers, librarians and summer campus instructors.

To sign up to be a participating site with Nittany Lions Read/Nittany Lions Count at Penn State, please contact your .

Employment Guidelines

Before the student begins working, you should discuss with him/her:

  • Job duties
  • Standard of conduct, dress code, and job performance standards expected
  • That the job is not designed to provide study opportunities
  • Student's emergency contact information
  • Student's award amount and when his/her eligibility will end*
  • That two weeks notice is expected to discontinue employment

*Example: an undergraduate student earning $9.50/hour with a $1,750 award working 20 hours per week will be able to work approximately 9 weeks and a graduate student earning $11/hour with a $2,000 award working 20 hours per week will be able to work approximately 9 weeks. The Office of Student Aid will notify both the supervisor and student if there is a change in work-study eligibility.

Employment Policies

Supervisors and students should be aware of the following employment policies:

  • Supervisors must maintain work-study employment records for five years after a student's employment period has expired.
  • Students must know who their immediate supervisor is and who to contact if the supervisor is not available.
  • Supervisors should establish a procedure for recording hours worked.*
  • Students cannot be required to operate a vehicle as a condition of the job.
  • Work-study earnings are reported as Earned Income on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the subsequent year and are deducted as "Title IV Exclusions."
  • A student's aid may not exceed their financial need as determined by the FAFSA and as indicated on the Award Summary on LionPATH. A work-study award may be reduced if the student's financial aid exceeds their financial need.
  • If the Office of Student Aid is reviewing a student's FAFSA information for accuracy, the student must stop working until the verification process is complete
  • Work-study earnings must be direct deposited into the student's checking or savings account.
  • A student's work hours cannot exceed eight hours per day.
  • During fall, spring, and summer semesters, a student may work up to 20 hours per week.
  • For information about termination of employment, refer to the Federal Work-Study Manual.

*Students and supervisors are required to keep track of the hours worked and the balance of their award; however, supervisors are responsible for verifying the hours worked.

Timecard Submission

Please submit all work study students' timecards according to the payroll schedule that is sent to all supervisors prior to the start of the semester via the Work Study Supervisor listserv. If you are not receiving these notifications, please contact Kimberly Fisher to be added to this listserv.

Any late timecards should be submitted within 30 days of the last day of the actual pay period the student worked. If it is beyond the 30 days, the department will be required to fund 100 percent of pay for the student's hours worked.

Related content
Federal Work-Study
Penn State Federal School Code











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