Student Assistant/Federal Work-Study Compensation Plan

The following plan includes information regarding eligibility, hours of work, the determination of the most appropriate classification for student employees, procedures for reclassifying positions, determination of initial pay rates, employee promotions, merit salary increases, and effective dates of salary increases and student hire processing information. General pay information sheets will be made available to departments to distribute to student employees (see Student Assistant/Federal Work-Study Student Pay Information Sheet).


The purpose of the guidelines is to provide equitable and consistent classification, salary, and employment administration for all students employed by the university. The plan is to be used as a guide in administering eligibility, employment, classification, and compensation best practices for the student workers classified as Student Assistants or Federal Work-Study students.

Delegation of Authority

  1. Each department is responsible for administering the plan for the student employees hired in its department.
  2. Before hiring an employee as a Federal Work-Study (FWS), the department must request budget approval from the Federal Work-Study Office  (FWSO) through the Departmental Agreement Form before using FWS funds to pay FWS students.
  3. Supervisors must have approved FWS Job Request Forms on file with the FWSO online through the Career Center’s job recruitment system and must have an approved student FWS Authorization Form for each student prior to entering the hiring process. Federal Work-Study Authorization Forms are requested by departments and approved by the FWSO in SOLAR CSUN SA Module. Contact for more information.
  4. Departments that employ large numbers of Student Assistant/Federal Work-Study students may establish more structured guidelines on initial hiring rates to ensure consistency within the department. Departmental guidelines using the SA/FWS Student Salary Schedule ranges are appropriate as long as the minimum standards identified in this plan are met.

Eligibility of Appointment

To be appointed as a Student Assistant or Federal Work-Study student, the student must be enrolled at California State University, Northridge and be regularly attending classes during the semester of appointment. Federal Work-Study student employees must have a Federal Work-Study award from the Financial Aid and Scholarship department. Employment as a student is secondary to pursuing a course of study. Student Assistant appointments are designed to offer students a pathway to work part-time while attending school. This serves a dual purpose: first, to allow them to acquire valuable employment experience aligned with their educational objectives, and secondly, to provide financial assistance to support their academic journey.

Enrollment Requirements for “tax exempt” Student Assistant (Job Codes 1870, 1871, and 1872):

  • Undergraduates shall be enrolled for at least 6 units. Graduates shall be enrolled for at least 4 units in graduate-level courses.

  • Extended Learning courses may count toward eligibility if the student is a regular CSU, Northridge student and enrolled in accredited courses within Extended Learning.

Enrollment requirements for Taxable Student Assistant (Job Code 1874):

  • Student employees who are enrolled in less than 6 units for undergraduate or less than 4 units for graduate, during the period of their employment will need to be hired into the Taxable Student Assistant, Job Code (1874). Students will be placed in this job code to reflect that the student is no longer eligible for FICA tax exemption pursuant to Internal Revenue Code and the CSU policy.
  • Students who are assigned to work, but are enrolled in less than 6 units (undergraduate) or 4 units (graduate), will be subject to having Medicare taxes deducted from their pay warrant at the rate of 1.45% of gross wages. In addition, they will participate in the Part-Time/Seasonal/Temporary (PST) Retirement plan (in lieu of Social Security), which results in a payroll deduction of 7.5% of pre-tax gross earnings each pay period.

Enrollment requirements for Non Resident Alien Student Assistant (Job Code 1868):

Registered as a full‐time CSU student during an academic term. Note: Federal Work Study is not available during the summer session. 

Student Assistants who are separating must submit separation paperwork/notification to their department immediately for last paycheck preparation by Payroll.

Students who have graduated and who are not admitted/enrolled for the following semester are NOT eligible for Student Assistant/Federal Work-Study appointments. The appointment end date can be up to the last day of the current academic semester, as stated on the CSUN Academic Calendar. 

Other eligibility requirements and steps to qualify for financial aid programs for Federal Work-Study students may be found in the Federal Work-Study webpage for Employers at Financial Aid Basics / Work-Study

If you have access to the SOLAR Student Inquiry & Advisement module, please refer to on how to verify the enrollment information. Contact Sara Alarid at x5385 if you need further assistance. If you do not have access to SOLAR Student Inquiry & Advisement module, please contact Admissions and Records at Ext. 3700 (select option #7 for operator assistance).

  • Questions regarding eligibility for Student Assistant employment should be directed to HR Classification & Compensation, (Ext. 2101).
  • Questions regarding eligibility for Federal Work-Study student employment should be directed to the Financial Aid Office (Ext. 2373).

Terms of Appointment

Student Assistant and Federal Work-Study student appointments are temporary. Students are paid on an hourly basis for actual hours worked. These appointments may be ended by notification to the student that he/she will no longer be scheduled to work. Termination may be made due to lack of work, lack of funds, or poor performance. Student employees do not earn vacation, sick leave, or holiday pay. Jury duty is not compensated and they are not covered by unemployment insurance. Student employees are, however, covered by workers' compensation.

Remember, it is important to track or note both positive performance by a Student employee and areas of concern.  Providing students with specific feedback on a regular basis allows them the opportunity to realize and further grow their strengths, and/or to address and change any weaknesses.  Regularly scheduled feedback will strengthen the student's connection to their work experience and prepare them for employment beyond their time at CSUN.  Documenting performance will provide the department with the information needed to make decisions regarding continued employment, wage increases, or separation.

  • Separation & Performance Note: Separation & Performance Note: The authority to hire, discharge, or discipline student employees is the responsibility of the Appropriate Administrator (MPP or Department Chair). Staff leads may provide input to the MPP/Department Chair on student performance.

Questions regarding Separation & Performance practices should be directed to Employee Relations at (Ext. 6566)

Hire Process

  1. Use the  New Employee Sign in form to document a new Student Assistant hire. Forward the completed form to the appropriate Financial Manager for authorization.
  2. Students should complete the Sign-In process if applicable.

Student Assistants and Federal Work-Study students are hired through the SOLAR Student Hire module by their department.

  1. The Effective date of the appointment entered in the system should reflect the actual first date of work.
  2. The Federal Work-Study Authorization Request Form and approval process is completed on SOLAR CSUN SA module. Once the process is complete the students FWS award is available for departments to complete the student hire process in the SOLAR Student Hire Module.

The following are some important tips and information regarding SOLAR:

  1. When new students are hired in the SOLAR Student Hire module they do not appear in the Time and Labor module until the next business day. Department Timekeepers will not be able to enter student work hours the same day a new student is hired, even if the effective date of hire is prior to the date the time is entered.
  2. Student Assistants and Federal Work-Study students cannot be hired in the same job code and same department code at two different salary rates. It is recommended that the two salary rates are blended into a single rate to accommodate these situations.

, I-9 Compliance, Background checks (Onboarding / HR Paperwork)

  1. Student employees must sign in with Human Resources before starting work.

  2. Students must present the New Employee Sign-In Form in order to sign in. Students must also present evidence at the time of sign in of eligibility to work pursuant to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).
  3. Student employees will not receive a pay warrant until they have completed the sign-in process, even if their weekly hours are entered by the department Timekeeper in the SOLAR Time and Labor module.
  4. After being hired into a job, a student who has not signed in within the last 18 months must complete the Sign-in Process in Human Resources (Valera Hall, Room 165) before the student can be identified as "Payroll Ready" in the SOLAR system.

I-9 Compliance

  • Federal regulations require Form I-9 to be completed on or before the first day of work as per the submitted New Employee Sign-In form.  It is important for departments to verify completion of the sign in process before an employee begins work.
  • Federal regulations require all employers to verify that individuals are authorized to work in the United States. The Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) must be completed for every new employee (including citizens and noncitizen nationals of the United States) on or before the first day of work. Furthermore, failure to comply with these requirements may result in civil penalties incurred by CSU, Northridge.

Questions regarding Sign-in & I-9 compliance practices should be directed to (Ext. 2101)

Fingerprinting/Background Check

Hiring departments may require a pre-employment background/fingerprint check of the student as a condition of employment. Please visit for more information or contact for assistance.


Payroll Forms & Information

  1. The payroll processing for Federal Work-Study students is now conducted by the department through SOLAR. Any questions concerning Federal Work-Study student payroll processing, access, or training should be directed to Federal Work-Study (Ext. 2373).
  2. If the department has missed the transaction deadline, is reporting payroll from a prior pay period, or is making other adjustments to a Federal Work-Study student's payroll, they must use the Prior Pay Period Adjustment Form. If you have questions concerning the processing of this form, please call the Payroll Technician assigned to your department. This form must be submitted to the WSO for approval. Once approved, the WSO will submit the form to the Payroll office for processing.

TAX Exemption:

  1. Students working in Job Codes 1870, 1871, 1872, 1880 and 1881 are exempt from Social Security and Medicare (FICA) coverage pursuant to IRS Code Section 3121(b)(10). IRS Procedure 2005-11 sets general standards for determining whether services performed by students employed by a school, college or university qualify for the student FICA exemption for services performed on or after April 1, 2005. 

Pay Check Distribution

Pay day is approximately the 15th of each month; please check the Payroll Calendar for specific dates at the following link:

Helpful Payroll Links:

Hours of Work (Holidays, Meal Breaks, OT, Multiple Appointment)

1. Work Hours: The CSU policy restricts student assistant work time. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service guidelines for student assistants to remain exempt from Social Security and Medicare deductions, limits their normal working hours to 20 during the school year. An exception is allowed during winter inter-session, spring break, and summer session.

  • During the Academic Semester (please see CSUN campus academic calendar), Student Assistants may work up to 20 hours per week total in all positions across campus.
  • When school is not in session due to semester breaks (outside of the academic semester), Student Assistants may work up to a maximum of 40 hours per week, but may not be scheduled to work overtime. Overtime is defined as more than 40 hours per week. A schedule may exceed 8 hours a day provided the total for the week does not exceed 40 hours. The Controller's Office will not issue payments to Student Assistants in excess of 168 hours for a 21-day period, nor in excess of 176 hours for a 22-day period.
  • When the academic semester starts in the middle of a work week it is a “split” week. For example, when the beginning of the semester is on a Wednesday, the 1st two days of week are still in the "Break" time period can be full-time, while the remaining days of the week would be under the restriction to work half- time.
    • One Example is:
    • Monday = 8 hours
      Tuesday = 8 hours
      Wednesday = 4 hours
      Thursday = 4 hours
      Friday = 4 hours
    • Total hours that can be worked in this “split” week scenario is 28 hours.
    • The actual hours per day worked in that week can be in any combination resulting in the slightly higher than 20 hours per week cap.
    • Note: Information regarding split weeks will be communicated to the campus community via email through HR News and Payroll towards the end of the semester, at the appropriate time.
  • Federal Work-Study students may only work up to a total of 20 hours per week in all positions.

2. Holidays: Student Assistants are not expected to work on campus holiday closure days.

  • The University supports holidays as a time of celebration, or recognition of the designated individual. This is a reminder that only employees absolutely necessary to University operations should be assigned or allowed to work on official campus holidays.
  • If there's a critical requirement for a student to work during a campus holiday(s), the department will need to submit a formal request to the AVP, Human Resources (Kristina De La Vega) for approval before scheduling. The request should include justification for the need, the work to be performed, and who will be supervising the student worker(s). 
  • After obtaining approval from HR, the Appropriate MPP Administrator/Chair should take the necessary steps to ensure that the student works under the supervision of the appropriate staff member. As with any workday, the appropriate supervising staff member(s) should be on site with the student employees when they are scheduled to work.

3. Breaks & Lunch: Generally, students shall be given a 15-minute break during a 4-hour shift, and at least a 30-minute break for lunch during a 5 to 6-hour shift. The 15-minute break is paid time; the 30-minute lunch is unpaid time. The 15-minute break cannot be accumulated for lunch and cannot alter the normal work schedule. For additional guidelines, please reference Rest Break and Meal Period Scenarios here.

4. Overtime: In California, overtime is defined as more than 40 hours per week.

  • Student assistants do not qualify for overtime. Therefore, they must never work more than 40 hours a week. There are no exceptions to this prohibition.
  • ·       Student Assistants who meet eligibility may work up to a maximum of 40 hours per week when outside of the Academic Semesterbut may not be scheduled to work overtime.
  • A schedule may exceed 8 hours a day provided the total for the week does not exceed 40 hours.

6. Multiple Concurrent Student Assistant Appointments:

  • Student employees may be concurrently employed as a Student Assistant, Work-Study Student Assistant, Instructional Student Assistant, Graduate Assistant, and Teaching Associate as long as they don’t exceed a combined total of 20 hours per week during a regular semester and 40 hours per week during a semester break (if they are not enrolled in classes on campus). However, student employees may not concurrently hold a staff or lecturer/faculty position or two concurrent work-study positions.
  • Students holding more than one job should inform their departments of the multiple appointments.
  • The departments share responsibility to ensure that all hours worked do not exceed the weekly maximum, or that overtime is triggered inadvertently.
  • The dept. should use the Student Employment Eligibility Report before and/or after the student is hired to determine if the student employee holds multiple positions on campus.

Please discuss multiple concurrent appointments with the student and the other hiring department to coordinate the scheduling of work.

How to Determine the Appropriate Student Assistant Level

There are four levels of student employees (Student Assistant I, II, III, and IV). Each level has a separate salary range. (A description of the classes and pay schedule are shown in the Student Assistant/Federal Work-Study Student Salary Schedule.)
Classification of the positions must be made before any salary placement can occur. Departments are responsible for determining the appropriate level for student workers that they employ. To determine the appropriate level, the supervisor must analyze the tasks and level of responsibility assigned to the students.

Descriptions of Levels I, II, III, and IV positions are as follows:

Student employees assigned to Level I positions work under immediate supervision. This means that the methods of performing tasks are well established and outlined or explained in specific terms. Assistance and/or guidelines are readily available if a problem occurs and work assignments typically involve standardized duties. The supervisor has responsibility for the assignment of work, the flow of work, production level, and provisions of proper instructions. Employees follow prescribed steps and refer unusual situations to a supervisor. Jobs that are assigned to this class do not require independent judgment, analysis, or decision-making skills, and no previous experience or education is required.

Jobs assigned to Level II work under general supervision. This means that definite work objectives are set for the employee but methods of performing the tasks are frequently left to the judgment of the employee with occasional instruction or advice provided by the supervisor. The frequency of review by the supervisor depends on the difficulty and complexity of the assignment or on the impact or result of the work performed. While the supervisor is again responsible for the general assignment of work, less control may be exercised over the flow for work and instructions given may be more general in nature. The employee is responsible for the results of the work. Jobs assigned to this level usually require some previous experience, education, or specialized skill.

Jobs assigned to Level III receive general supervision, as described for Level II; however, the jobs involve a wide variety of skilled tasks that require previous experience, education, or specialized skills. Frequently, jobs at this level will include the responsibility for coordinating the work of lower-level employees or the application of independent judgment and decision-making. Jobs at this level should be those that require a significant amount of previous education or experience or those that work most independently with considerable authority for independent action.

Student employees assigned to Level IV positions receive limited supervision necessary to complete highly complex assignments which enhance the educational objectives of the department, the student population, or the academic research of the department or college. The objectives of assignments are defined by the supervisor and the methodology may or may not be prescribed; however, the nature of the methodology or the analysis of the process or results is designed and managed by the employee.

Jobs at this level require specialized knowledge and previous experience, or the student has successfully demonstrated the ability to perform the judgment and skilled assignments representative of his/her field of study. The work is neither routine nor narrow in its scope of responsibility. The work is normally matched to the student's course of study at the senior or graduate level and the student can relate to students, faculty, administration, and staff in the performance of the assignments. Student employees at this level may direct the work of others and/or may be required to consult with others on and off campus. The work may require completion of the project/assignment from the initial concept through implementation and evaluation.

Level Changes (work assignment updates)

  1. There are times when the assignment of duties and responsibilities to a student employee changes such that the level designated for the position is no longer appropriate. To determine appropriate level changes, the department should review the guidelines described in the section listed above. Placement of a job at a higher level is similar to a classification action for staff employees and should include an increase for the student employee. To determine appropriate increases for a level change, departments should use the guidelines under How to Determine Pay Rates for Promotions section. 
  2. Level changes result in changed "anniversary" dates for the employees' merit increase. After a promotion, students become eligible for a merit increase after completion of six qualifying months of work in the new level. (See Merit Increase Section.) 
  3. To process level changes for Student Assistants, departments should complete the Student Employee Job Data Change Form. Forward all requests for student assistant transactions to the appropriate Financial Manager for authorization. Retention of this form should be determined by the Financial Manager.
  4. To process level changes for Federal Work-Study students, departments must complete the Student Employee Job Data Change Form, a Job Request Form through the Career Center's job recruitment system, detailing the new position, and a new Federal Work-Study Authorization Form. These forms must be submitted to the WSO for approval ten days prior to student time entry into SOLAR.

Salary Ranges

There are four recommended salary ranges which correspond to the four levels of student employee assignments.

See Student Assistant Work-Study Salary Schedule.

  • Each of the four (4) levels has a recommended minimum and maximum rate.
  • An employee’s salary placement is determined by the Appropriate Administrator (MPP or Dept Chair) in consultation with the college/division HR/Finance Director/Representative. 
    • Full Salary Ranges for each student assistant job code can be found at the CSU Salary Schedule website:

How to Determine Initial Pay Rates for New Student Employees

  1. When appointing a new student employee, the department should first decide whether the duties and responsibilities to be assigned fit in Level I, II, III, or IV. After determining the appropriate level, the department then determines the employee's salary within the recommended salary range for that level.

  2. To determine the appropriate initial salary placement, the department should consider such things as wages paid to other students for similar work, the student's special skills, and prior work-related Experience. Possession of highly specialized skills or other special circumstances may qualify a student for initial placement higher in the range.

How to Determine Pay Rates for Promotions

When appointing a student employee to a higher level, the department should first decide whether the duties and responsibilities to be assigned fit in Level II, III, or IV. After determining the appropriate level, the department then determines the employee's salary within the salary range for that level.

  • An employee’s salary placement is determined by the Appropriate Administrator (MPP or Dept Chair) in consultation with the college/division HR/Finance Director/Representative. 

Pay Increases

Pay increases are to be provided to student workers only as a result of appropriate merit increases.

  • An employee’s salary placement is determined by the Appropriate Administrator (MPP or Dept Chair) in consultation with the college/division HR/Finance Director/Representative. 
    • Please Note: If a department wants to provide an increase to a student employee's hourly rate outside of minimum wage adjustments, additional AVP or VP approval is required, please work with your Division HR/Finance Officers to process.

Other Salary Increases: The salary ranges for Student Assistant/Federal Work-Study students may be adjusted to reflect general salary increases when so approved by the President.

Merit Increases

  1. Except as indicated in the discussions on classification and promotions, all student workers are eligible for merit increases after the completion of six qualifying months of work in the Student Assistant/Federal Work-Study position and every six qualifying months of time worked thereafter until the employee reaches the maximum rate within the salary range for the level. In rare instances, exceptional performance may be awarded merit salary increases before six qualifying months of service. Follow the instructions in the Student Employee Job Data Change Form and attach a written justification for the accelerated increase.
  2. To receive credit for one month's work, the student must work all of the hours of the regular weekly schedule established by the supervisor for at least two weeks out of that month. Time off during the summer or months off as a result of intermittent assignments do not count towards the six qualifying months of experience.
  3. For example, if a student is hired on October 1 and works continuously for six months, he/she would become eligible for a merit increase on April 1 of the following year and for another increase the following October if work was continuous from April through September. However, if a student received a merit increase on March 1, worked through the end of May, did not work for the months of June, July, and August but returned to work in September, he/she would not be eligible for another merit increase until December 1 of that year.
  4. Merit increases are typically 2.5%. To qualify for the increase, student workers must meet the six months qualifying experience requirements as described above, and their work performance must be evaluated as satisfactory or above by their supervisor. Completion of six qualifying months experience without satisfactory evaluation should not result in merit increases.
  5. Merit increases become effective at the beginning of the next pay period after the completion of the required six months qualifying experience and approval by the department.
  6. To process the merit increases for Student Assistants, the supervisors should enter a PAY SPC transaction in the Student module. For student job codes 1150, 1868 & 1874 please use DTA/APT to add a new rate.  For retroactive pay changes, please complete a Student Employee Job Data Change form.
  7. The department should work directly with their College/Division HR/Finance officers to confirm if additional AVP or VP approval is required.

XVI. Other Salary Increases

The salary ranges for Student Assistant/Federal Work-Study students may be adjusted To reflect general salary increases when so approved by the President.

Effective Dates

Requests for merit increases, promotions, and classification changes become effective at the beginning of the pay period in which the requests are submitted.


Student Assistants are like any other employee.  Separation date needs to be given to Payroll as soon as possible for preparation of the employee's last paycheck.

If a Student Assistant is separated prior to the initial end of appointment date established when hired, the student should be advised of such action by the Appropriate Administrator (MPP).

The final pay warrant must be available to hand to the student at the time you notify them of an early separation.


Employment and Salary Guidelines for Student Assistants:

Classification & Compensation  


Employment and Salary for Federal Work-Study & LAEP Students:

Diana Medina


Payroll Processing, Time Entry, Direct Deposit, Pay

Payroll Administration


SOLAR System Hiring & Processing Forms

Academic Personnel Operations


Employment and Salary for Instructional Student Assistants, Graduate Assistants, & Teaching Associates

Faculty Affairs


Other Documents & Resources