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Division of Human Resources

Student Employment FAQ

This page provides quick answers to common questions.  If you need additional help, your student hiring representative is also a great resource.

Eligibility Requirements and Number of Hours

Enrollment requirements applicable to graduate assistants are defined by university policy ACAF 4.00 Graduate Assistantships.

An undergraduate student enrolled at USC in at least six (6) credit hours is eligible for student employment. Graduate students without graduate assistantships do not have a minimum enrollment requirement. For more information, please review Student Employment Policy.

International students are permitted to work on-campus as part of their immigration status. There are different types of work authorizations depending on the purpose of employment and the student’s immigration status. Visit International Student Services for more information.

Generally, student employees should not work more than 20 hours per week during the academic term in which they are enrolled as they are first and foremost a student.

  • Undergraduate students working multiple jobs must not work over 40 hours per week across all active on-campus appointments.
  • International students cannot work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year while classes are in session. International student employees may work over 20 hours, but no more than 40 hours, per week during official university breaks or during the summer if they intend to enroll for the subsequent semester. Visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Support for more information.
  • Federal Work Study students cannot work more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session and 40 hours per week during official school breaks. Visit the Office of Financial Aid for more information.
  • Graduate students are generally capped at 20 hours per week, however graduate students may submit a Graduate Assistant Appeal to the Graduate School to request increased hours during the Fall and Spring semesters up to 25 hours per week. No appeal is necessary during the summer, but graduate students are capped at 28 hours per week.

Be as accurate as possible in establishing the number of hours the student is expected to work each week. Many students have multiple jobs and Inflating the hours per week may cause issues given the recommended limit of 20 hours per week.


Preparing for the First Day of Work

Most student employees do not require a background check unless they fall into certain categories. For example, student employees who are handling money, working with minors, involved in direct patient care, or have key access will require a background check.  For more information, please review HR Policy 1.90 Background Screenings and Professional References.

All U.S. employers are responsible for the completion and retention of Form I-9 – Employment Eligibility Verification – for each individual hired for employment in the United States, including citizens and non-citizens. As part of USC’s employment process, student employees are required to complete a Federal Form I-9 to establish their eligibility to work in the United States before they can start working.

On or before a student employee’s first day, the student hire representative initiates this electronic process in I-9 Advantage and will ensure section one is completed by the student. Within the first three days of starting a job, the student employee will need to present UNEXPIRED and ORIGINAL documents from the Form I-9 List of Acceptable Documents to the student hire representative to complete section two of the verification. Review the Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Employee Information Sheet for more information.

It is important for all Schools and units to verify students’ employment eligibility and correct any problems before allowing them to work. If students are not in compliance, they must not be allowed to work.

Contact the Division of Human Resources for further assistance.

Along with Form I-9 and the potential background screening, there are several other onboarding steps that a student employee must complete once they have been hired into the HR/Payroll system. Visit the New Student Employee Checklist for more information.

International students may have additional onboarding steps to complete before they can be hired and before their first day of work. Visit the International Student Employment Guide for more information.


Benefits and Paychecks

All USC students must have health insurance per university policy STAF 7.00 . Information on the Student Health Insurance Plan can be found on Student Health Services webpage. Student employees are generally not eligible for the SC State Health Insurance. However, an offer of employer coverage will be extended to student employees who qualify based on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and university guidelines. Contact the Benefits Office for further information.

Student employees are not eligible to receive paid vacation or sick leave. In the event of an illness, a student employee must notify you as soon as possible each day of absence. 

In addition, student employees are not eligible for holiday pay. In university offices where services are maintained on holidays and students are scheduled to work, the rate of pay is at the regular hourly rate. For more information and a list of holidays review the USC Holiday Schedule.

Additionally, it is important to note that student employees are NOT considered mandatory employees in most circumstances. In the event that classes are canceled but the University has reduced or suspended operations, student employees are not typically required to report to work.

Graduate student employees may be eligible for tuition and fee awards based on their appointment type and other criteria. Visit the Graduate School for more information.

In order for a student employee to appropriately receive a paycheck for time worked, the following items must be completed:

  • Student employee completes Form I-9 in I-9 Advantage AND has their UNEXPIRED and ORIGINAL documents from the list of acceptable documents verified by a student hire representative on their first day or work.
  • Student employee sets up or updates direct deposit information.
  • Student employee completes Form W-4 and Form SC-4. Please note that international students must submit paper copies of their tax forms to Payroll Services. Visit the International Student Employment Guide for more information.
  • Student employees paid an hourly rate of pay appropriately logs hours worked in the university's Time and Absence System. Please note that students who are paid a salary (not an hourly rate) are not required to log hours in the system.
  • Supervisor approves student employee timesheets in the Time and Absence System before the payroll lockout date.

Student employees may be exempt from paying FICA taxes if they meet certain eligibility criteria established by the IRS. It is important to note that if a student employee’s student status changes, for instance, if they continue to work over the summer, their FICA exemption may change. Review USC’s policy regarding FICA exemptions for students for more information.


Other Questions

The International Student Employment Guide provides an overview of and instructions for navigating the student employment process for international students as well as supervisors or student hire representatives involved in hiring an international student.

Visit International Student Services (ISS) for more information or to speak with an advisor regarding on-campus student employment.

Student employees with concerns about discrimination or harassment connected to their employment with USC should contact the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX.


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