Student Employment Handbook

The Student Employment Office (SEO) has prepared this handbook to provide you with a general overview of the student employment process, including the work component of the Federal Work-Study Program (FWS). The information should be helpful to students just beginning their employment search as well as to current students and potential employers.

  1. Introduction

  2. Contacting the SEO

  3. The Federal Work-Study Program

  4. Finding a Federal Work-Study Job

  5. Qualifying for On-Campus Employment

  6. International Students - Employment Eligibility

  7. International Students - Off-Campus Employment and OPT

  8. When to Begin Employment

  9. Job Searching

  10. On-Campus Job Classification and Work Hours

  11. Wages and Payment Procedures

  12. Tax Guidelines

  13. Social Security Taxes (FICA)

  14. On-Campus Co-op Employment

  15. Graduate Assistants

  16. Job Benefits

  17. Standards of Employment and Student Conduct

  18. Job Related Problems

  19. Summer Employment

  20. Intersession


1. Introduction

Students work for a variety of reasons. Some need their earnings to meet the basic costs of an RIT education, while others want their earnings for social activities. Still others recognize that skills and work habits gained on the job will benefit them when they seek full-time employment, and simply enjoy the camaraderie of work groups.

Each year, more than 6,000 RIT students are employed through the SEO, a division of the Institute's Cooperative Education and Career Services Department. The SEO is responsible for administrating all aspects of student part-time and summer employment, including the Federal Work-Study Program (FWS), and for developing, implementing, and monitoring the Institute's policies and procedures for student employment.

The SEO is here to aid you in your job search, to ensure that you are properly compensated for your work, and to mediate any problems or concerns arising from your employment.

If you are looking for a part-time job to help pay for your expenses while at RIT, or if you want to gain valuable work experience while attending classes, this guide will tell you what you need to know about getting a job on or off the RIT campus.

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2. Contacting the SEO

Phone: (585) 475-2631
Fax: (585) 475-5588
TTY: (585) 475-2837

Email: seo@rit.edu
Web: http://www.rit.edu/seo


Joanne Stuewe
Senior Associate Director

Amanda Henry
Assistant Director

Lillieth Christopher
Student Employment Assistant

Lizabeth Dailey
Student Employment Assistant

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3. The Federal Work-Study Program

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program is a federally funded program administered by RIT to promote access to employment. This program assists students who demonstrate financial need as defined by the Federal Government. The Financial Aid Office selects on the basis of financial need as many participants for this program as funding allows.

Earnings during the academic year vary and are dependent upon maximum earnings level and the number of hours actually worked. Each student is paid bi-weekly by check or direct deposit for the number of hours worked. FWS earnings are considered income, and subject state and federal taxes. Please refer to the Tax Guidelines section for more information.

Financial need is defined as the difference between the total cost of a student's educational expenses and the amount of money the student and his or her parents are expected to contribute to those costs. To be eligible to receive a FWS award, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Be in need of the earnings from such employment in order to pursue a course of study.

  • Be capable of maintaining a good standing in such course of study while employed.

  • Be a matriculated student.

  • Be a citizen of the United States or an eligible non-resident.

Students are expected to apply FWS earnings toward educational expenses at RIT. FWS earnings are not automatically applied toward tuition. FWS awards that are not used cannot be carried over to the next academic year. Any money that is not earned from the award is considered unrecoverable. The amount unearned is not credited toward your tuition bill. Students who have reached their award limits are advised to go to the Financial Aid Office to inquire as to whether their award can be increased. FWS is not automatically renewed. Students must reapply by the deadline of April 1st of each year.

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4. Finding a Federal Work-Study Job

The SEO is responsible for the employment component of the FWS program. It is our policy to assist as many FWS students as possible to find employment. However, it is the student's responsibility to complete the job search, application, and interview process with the employers and then to obtain the Student Employment Eligibility Card from the Student Employment Office. Students who are persistent in seeking employment, regardless of the job, will be certain to find work on-campus. If you are having difficulty finding employment, you are strongly advised to schedule an appointment with an SEO staff member as soon as possible. They will do whatever they can to assist you in seeking part-time employment.

All employment procedures, including how to find job, wages, and payment procedures are identical for students with or without FWS awards.

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5. Qualifying for On-Campus Employment

For on-campus student employment, you are required to obtain a Student Employment Eligibility Card from the Student Employment Office. To do so, you must first have an offer of employment and bring the Student Employment Verification Form to the Student Employment Office which your supervisor has completed for you. You’re employer will also provide you with the website and employer code so that you can complete Section I of the government mandated I-9 form on-line, prior to going to the Student Employment Office. You must also be a full-time matriculated RIT student, AND be registered for a minimum of 12 credit hours for the semesters(s) you wish to work. You will be also be required to submit original documentation to Student Employment to complete the I-9 process to prove your employment identity and eligibility to work. Required I-9 Form documentation.

  • Be registered for full-time status (12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 credit hours for graduate students).

  • Receive an offer of employment from an RIT employer

  • Receive a Student Employment Job Verification Form from your employer

  • Complete Section 1 of the government mandated I-9 form on-line at http://www.newi9.com. The Employer number is 15083. Section 1 of the I-9 Form must be completed prior to or no later than your first day of employment and prior to going to the Student Employment Office to complete Section 2 of the I-9.

  • Go to the Student Employment Office with your Verification Slip and required documents to complete Section 2 of the I-9 Form within three days of your job start date. Required I-9 Form documentation

The SEO also functions as a brokerage service for RIT students seeking off-campus employment. To apply for off-campus jobs you must first check the Off-Campus Job Postings located on the SEO website. Directions for application are found on each job listing. It is the student's responsibility to contact the employer to schedule an interview. The employer will make the hiring decision. If at any time you encounter problems with an off-campus employer, you are advised to contact the SEO immediately at 585-475-2631.

If you are an International student, please refer to the section on Employment Eligibility for International Students.

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6. International Students - Employment Eligibility

To be eligible for on-campus employment and before a Student Employment Eligibility Card can be obtained, international students must first:

  • Have an offer of employment from an RIT Employer.

  • Be enrolled with a minimum of 12 credit hours as an undergraduate student or 9 credit hours as a graduate student, or have a full-time equivalency for all semesters of employment.

  • Have a valid F1 or J1 Visa and/or I-94.

International students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during academic periods, and up to 40 hours per week during breaks, summer and intersession.


International students seeking employment who DO NOT already have a Social Security Card must have a job or job offer BEFORE he or she can apply for a Social Security number. International students must follow the procedures listed below:

  • Search for employment via the SEO website or by visiting employing departments through the campus.

  • Once you have an offer of employment and the Employment Verification Form provided to you by your supervisor, you are required to obtain an Employment Eligibility Card from the Student Employment Office. (See Qualifying for On-Campus Employment) Be sure to bring your I-20 or DS-2019 with passport, I-94, and visa to the SEO.

  • After getting a job, ask your employer for a copy of your Student Employment Hire Form and take the form to the ISSO. Be sure the hire form has your employer’s original signature.

  • The ISSO will provide you with a letter of verification for the Social Security Administration.

  • You are now eligible to apply for your Social Security Number. The ISSO will provide you with additional information on obtaining your Social Security Card.

F1 and J1 Visa Status:

International students are responsible for keeping their status up-to-date. Students must notify the SEO whenever their I-20 (for F1 Visas) or DS-2019 (for J1 Visas) is updated. Students with expired status are not eligible to work. Thirty days prior to a student's I-20 or DS-2019 status expiration date, the student's employers will receive an e-mail alert advising them that a student's status is about to expire. At the end of the 30 days, if the student has not updated his/her visa records in the SEO, the student will be terminated from employment.

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7. International Students - Off-Campus Employment and OPT

There are certain criteria that must be met in order for the International students to be eligible to work off-campus. For more information, contact the International Student Services Office.

International students are eligible for 12 months of optional practical training (OPT). OPT provides an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge with practical work. Such employment may take place at any location in the United States. For more information, contact the International Student Services Office.

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8. When to Begin Employment

Students do not necessarily need to start employment when they arrive on-campus. During the academic year, students may choose, for example, to begin work in January rather than September. However, there are a number of factors to consider before deferring employment. First, students may not be able to work in certain departments that may initiate most of their hiring in the Fall Semester. In addition, starting later in the year may not allow students with FWS awards to reach the maximum earnings level of their award amount.

When students will work is dependent upon choice of jobs and willingness/ability to work during the summer. Students may work part-time during the academic year and full-time during June, July and August. During summer sessions, however, all students are employed through institutional funding. Students may also be able to work full-time when classes are not in session during break periods throughout the academic year.

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9. Job Searching

Once you are registered full-time status for the quarter you wish to begin to work, you may start your job search. Job listings are posted on the SEO website. All information on how to apply can be found on each listing. Students are also encouraged to go directly to employing departments, such as any Dining Services venue or Note Taking Office, to inquire about job availability. Some employers may set-up a specific time for students to come to their department to apply for employment. Keep checking the SEO website for any notices of these events.

If at any time you encounter problems finding on-campus employment, please feel free to contact the SEO.

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10. On-Campus Job Classification and Work Hours

On-Campus student jobs are classified according to the skills and experience required, going from Level 2 to Level 5, with Level 5 being the highest.

  • Level 2: Semi-skilled or positions with some degree of specialized knowledge or training requiring little or no experience and are routine and well-supervised. Examples of these types of positions are file clerks, food service workers, campus tour guides, office assistants, and data entry clerks.

  • Level 3: Specialized knowledge and training requiring at least one year of experience, independent judgment, and at times, supervisory responsibility such as parking attendants, student ambassadors, computer operators, and athletic trainers.

  • Level 4: Two or three years of specialized course work, specialized training, experience, and a high degree of independent judgment. These positions may also involve supervision of others. Examples of these types jobs are tutors/note-takers, graders, and lab assistants.

  • Level 5: Designates a category of jobs, with wages being determined individually based on comparable or identical full-time positions. The skill requirements and employee responsibilities of such positions are identical for student employees and full-time employees. These jobs may also include those positions in which a student has worked during the previous quarter in an on-campus co-op position, and is continuing in the position as a regular student employee. These jobs also require a highly specialized skill and/or several years of previous experience. Examples of Level 5 jobs are web developers, research assistants, computer programmers, and supervisor positions.

The average student works 8 to 12 hours a week. While classes are in session, students may work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week, if the job permits. When classes are not in session, students may be able to work up to 40 hours per week. The number of hours per week and actual hours to be worked will be determined by the employer. Most on-campus employers will work around the student's class schedule.

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11. Wages and Payment Procedures

The hourly rate is based upon the level of your job as it falls within the job classification system. Each level is assigned a starting wage and two merit levels. Merit increases are based solely on performance and are granted by the student's supervisor. Merit increases can be implemented anytime throughout the year. In addition, employers have the option to pay students in approved Level 5 positions wages that may exceed those provided in the wage table.

Students are paid bi-weekly by check or direct deposit. Paychecks are distributed at the work site every other Friday and cover the hours worked for the previous two weeks. Students are paid on an hourly basis.

Direct deposit of wages is highly recommended for student workers. Forms can be obtained from the SEO or Payroll websites or by stopping by the Payroll or Student Employment Offices. Students taking advantage of the direct deposit option can view their paystubs online. For access, students must logon to http://finweb.rit.edu/controller/payroll/, and follow the directions provided.

View the Wage Schedule

View the RIT Bi-Weekly Pay Schedule

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12. Tax Guidelines

Earnings, including FWS earnings, are subject to all federal, state and local income taxes. All students must file a Form W-4 and IT-2104 for tax purposes when they begin to work at RIT. If you are a nonresident alien (NRA) student, you may be subject to special withholding requirements; please do not submit these forms and contact Keithaleen Jones in the Payroll Department - ktjpay@rit.edu.

* In the event that you do not submit either form, tax withholding will occur at the single with zero exemptions level (does not include NRA).


Students are not eligible to claim "exempt" on the Form W-4 unless all of the following apply:

  • The student's income exceeds $1000 and his income includes more than $350 of unearned income (for example, interest and dividends)

    AND

  • The student can be claimed by another person as a dependent on their tax return

    AND

  • Last year the student had a right to a refund of all federal income tax withheld due to no tax liability

    AND

  • This year the student expects a refund of all federal income tax withheld because the student expects to have no tax liability.


Students are not eligible to claim "exempt" on the IT-2104 unless the following conditions are met:

  • Student must be under age 18, or over age 65, or a full-time student under age 25

    AND

  • Student did not have a New York income tax liability for the previous year.

    AND

  • Student does not expect to have a New York income tax liability for the current year.

    OR

  • Student meets the conditions set forth under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, as amended by the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act.

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13. Social Security and Medicare Taxes (FICA)

Full-time, matriculated students are exempt from paying Social Security Tax (FICA) if they meet the following criteria:

  • Student is registered for a minimum of six credit hours per semester.

  • Student is physically working on the RIT campus.

Students who are registered for less than six credit hours or are paid by RIT, but working at an off-campus location, will have FICA taxes deducted from their paychecks at a rate of 7.65% with RIT paying the matching share. Therefore, it is extremely important that the employer indicate on the SEO Hire Form if the student is working off-campus.

Foreign students with a valid I-20 or DS-2019 are exempt from this policy.

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14. On-Campus Co-op Employment

Co-op employment is a mandatory component of many RIT degree programs. It is essential that on-campus co-op employment meet the criteria of program validity inherent in the Institute's commitment to quality experiential learning.

It is RIT policy and practice that all on-campus co-op students be hired according to the following procedure:

  • On-campus co-op positions are listed with the Center for Cooperative Education and Career Services.

  • Students seeking on-campus co-op respond directly to the departments listing the positions.

  • Students must be registered for Co-op in SIS for all semesters they wish to work.

  • Co-op students must follow all employment guidelines as outlined in Section 5, “Qualifying for On-Campus Employment” including the on-line I-9 process. Section 1 should be completed prior to or no later than the job start date at http://www.newi9.com. The Employer Number is 15083. Section 2 must be completed in the Student Employment Office within three days of the job start date. Be sure to bring required documentation as found at Required I-9 Form Documentation on the SEO website.

  • RIT Student Hire Forms are to be completed and returned to the SEO for processing by the employer.

The SEO will no longer publish the annual Co-op Wage Schedule. Employers may use their own discretion when assigning co-op wages. For assistance, employers may contact the Co-op Office at 475-2301 to request a copy of their most recent Co-op Wage Survey.

Unlike regular student employees, on-campus co-op students are also eligible for holiday pay for all Institute holidays falling within a given co-op employment semester. They are also eligible for sick pay on the ratio of two days per fall and spring semester and one sick day per summer co-op employment for a total of five sick days for the academic year. Sick day benefits are cumulative to a maximum of five (5) paid sick days per year. On-campus co-op students are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits. On-campus co-op employees are exempt from FICA withholding as long as they are registered for co-op.

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15. Graduate Assistants

Graduate Assistant (GA) positions fall into the following categories:

  • Graduate Assistant

  • Graduate Grading Assistant

  • Graduate Technical Assistant

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant

  • Other Graduate Assistant (Student Affairs only)

The employing department will determine into which category the student will be hired. Graduate Assistants must go through the same employment eligibility process as undergraduate students. GA’s must also be registered full-time status or have a full-time equivalency for all semesters they are to work. Generally speaking, graduate assistantships run from September until the end of May. During summer, GA’s are hired as regular student workers.

Additional Graduate Assistant information, including wage information, can be found at http://finweb.rit.edu/controller/graduate/.

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16. Job Benefits

RIT student employees are covered by New York State's Workers' Compensation if injuries are incurred while on the job. If students are unable to continue to work due to an illness or an injury sustained, other than in the course of employment, the student will be eligible for New York State statutory disability benefits. In either case, contact your supervisor immediately for instructions. Students are not eligible for sick pay, holiday pay, or unemployment insurance benefits. However, if required to work on an Institute Holiday, students will be paid time-and-a-half for hours worked.

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17. Standards of Employment and Student Conduct

Student employees are representatives of RIT and are expected to act in a manner consistent with the mission and goals of RIT and their department of employment. RIT student employees are expected to be punctual, reliable, dress appropriately and perform work in a satisfactory manner. Students are also expected to comply with all federal, state and local laws while working for the Institute on or off its property. Working under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is not permitted. Theft of tangible items or computer time, or misuse of telephones (i.e. unauthorized long distance personal calls), equipment or facilities available to students during their work hours is grounds for immediate dismissal and possible prosecution. As student employees are paid for actual hours worked, any student found adding unauthorized work hours will be immediately terminated from employment and may face criminal charges.

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18. Job Related Problems

Students should make a serious attempt to resolve any on the job problems with supervisors or peers. If the problem cannot be resolved at this level, then an appointment should be made with a staff member of Student Employment. Student Employment will in turn, contact the supervisor or peer in a final attempt to resolve the problem informally. If informal attempts to resolve the problem are unsatisfactory, a formal grievance procedure is available. Additional information can be found at University Resources for Discussing and/or Reporting Concerns about Unethical Conduct, Harassment, or Discrimination.

Students, who have completed the employment eligibility process and have worked for an on-campus employer for three weeks or more without receiving a paycheck, should check with their supervisor as soon as the first expected paycheck is not received. Often times the problem can be rectified immediately and arrangements can be made for the student to receive partial payment of wages owed. If the supervisor cannot assist the student with the problem, then the student is advised to contact the Student Employment Office.

Remember, the benefits of working extend far beyond the obvious financial ones. Getting a job and working to the best of your ability will provide valuable learning experience not otherwise available. Your job may or may not be career related, but you will have opportunities for growth and success!

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19. Summer Employment

Students who meet the following criteria are eligible to work up to 40 hours per week during summer semester if the following criteria are met:

  • Must be matriculated, and registered full-time status Spring Semester

  • Are registered for 0 credits for continuation of thesis for summer and/or fall that can be verified via STARS.

  • ANY of the following:

    • Must be registered for at least 4 credit hours for summer session.

    • Are registered for 0 credit hours for summer, but are registered for at least 3 credit hours for fall.

    • Are registered for at least 3 credit hours for both summer and fall.

Students working in on-campus summer co-op positions must be registered for co-op for summer session.

The same criteria apply to international students who are not enrolled for classes during summer session.

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20. Intersession

Students are eligible to work up to 40 hours per week during intersession if they were registered full-time status for fall semester AND are registered for spring semester. Students who are enrolled for classes during the intersession, may work up to 20 hours per week.

The same criteria apply to international students.

Remember, the benefits of working extend far beyond the obvious financial ones. Getting a job and working to the best of your ability will provide valuable learning experience not otherwise available. Your job may or may not be career related, but you will have opportunities for growth and success!

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