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10.1.1 Undergraduate Student Employment

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This Guide Memo was approved by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
Last Updated

Formerly Known As Policy Number: 24

This Guide Memo outlines policies and procedures for employment of Stanford undergraduate students by the university. For employment of graduate students in research and teaching assistantships, see Guide Memo 10.2.1. For employment of graduate students in hourly positions, see Guide Memo 10.2.2

1. Definitions and Distinctions

a. Student Hourly Employment

Stanford University uses student hourly employment to hire Stanford students for jobs that are specifically earmarked for matriculated students. All Stanford University student employment is hourly, with the exception of assistantships, which are limited to graduate students (see Guide Memo 10.2.1). Student workers are supervised and mentored in their work, are hired through the university HR system, and must record and approve their work hours each pay period. Routine employment procedures, such as recording time and leave, are also a means for preparing student workers for their future employment. Compensation for all undergraduate student jobs must be established on an hourly basis, and the amount of pay is based on the actual number of hours worked in each pay period. These job assignments are incidental to the student’s course of study with reasonable limitations placed during the academic quarter on the nature of the work assignment and the number of hours of employment. Students cannot volunteer for positions that are normally paid positions.

b. Stipend

Consistent with Stanford’s mission to promote the advancement of public welfare through educational cultivation with a hands-on approach, the University supports students engaging in paid and unpaid opportunities that further their own intellectual journey and academic training. In some cases, an unpaid opportunity may be supported by a stipend to defray living expenses.  When unpaid work is of an academic nature, the student may receive academic credit with the agreement of the mentoring faculty member.

A stipend is a payment to an enrolled or continuing student meant to support personal scholarly activities such as an undergraduate research project or experiential learning opportunities such as an unpaid internship. The payment should be intended to help the student defray research costs, living or travel expenses to enable participation in the scholarly activities or experiential learning opportunities. Stipends are not used to pay for services rendered which primarily benefit the faculty member, Stanford University or its programs or as compensation for employment.

All undergraduate stipend payments are processed by the Financial Aid Office. Stipends may impact need-based aid and athletic scholarships.

c. Student Residence Roles

Each residence on campus has a group of student leaders who facilitate various programmatic components of life in the residences. A stipend to defray living expenses is offered in conjunction with many of these roles ( Stipends may impact need-based aid and athletic scholarships.

d. Contingent (Casual or Temporary) Employment

Contingent employment is used to hire an individual for a part-time or temporary staff position. Contingent employment must be used for hourly employment assignments for non-matriculated students or matriculated students when on a Leave of Absence. Contingent employment is not normally used for enrolled, matriculated Stanford students but must be used for any student working more than 36 hours per week.

e. Federal Work-Study (FWS)

Stanford University participates in the FWS program as defined in Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Under this program funds are allocated to Stanford to allow students with qualifying financial need to gain valuable work experience while earning money to help pay for college. The program is administered by the Financial Aid Office in coordination with the hiring departments. Under the FWS program, federal funds are used to pay 75% of student wages, and the Provost pays the remaining 25%. A subset of the FWS program, Community Service Work-Study, allows qualifying students to work off campus at nonprofits (more information).

f. Off-Campus Internships and Off-Campus Employment

Off-Campus internships and employment are not covered by this policy, with the exception of federal Community Service Work-Study positions managed by the Haas Center for Public Service. In both cases, students are encouraged to be mindful that their primary obligation is to their academic program.  International students must also adhere to visa requirements.

2. Listing Student Jobs

a. Job Listing Services

Stanford departments wishing to hire undergraduate students as part-time workers are strongly encouraged to use the Handshake system administered by Stanford Career Education to list their job openings. Programs should log onto to post a job and reach a large cross section of students. All job postings must include the pay range for the position.

b. Hours Per Week

Students are encouraged to limit their hours of work so that they may devote sufficient attention to their studies. Therefore, the jobs listed for undergraduates during any enrollment period should not typically require more than 15 hours per week of work. During break periods between quarters, undergraduates may be employed full time. 

Thanksgiving Break:

Restrictions on student work hours do not apply during Thanksgiving recess, beginning the day after classes end (as detailed on the official university academic calendar) and continuing through the day before classes resume.

Between Quarter Breaks:

Restrictions on student work hours do not apply beginning the day after the University final exam period ends (as detailed on the official university academic calendar) and continuing through the day before classes begin the following quarter.

For example: students’ employment hours are not limited between the Saturday after Autumn quarter final exams, through the Sunday before Winter classes begin.

Individual university holidays, e.g., President’s Day and Memorial Day, do not constitute a break.

c. International students

International students on F-1 or J-1 visas are subject to both University policies on employment and visa requirements that limit employment; in all cases, the more restrictive limitation will apply. Students should consult with Bechtel International Center ( if they have questions about work eligibility and limitations on work hours.

d. Students on Financial Aid

Nearly half of Stanford’s undergraduate population receives need-based aid and most are expected to contribute toward their costs through employment. The standard expectation can be met by working eight to ten hours per week. Not all students receiving aid will qualify for Federal Work-Study; when possible, department funded jobs should be made available for students on aid.

e. Non-Discrimination

Non-discrimination policies applicable to regular staff, as stated in Guide Memo 2.1.2, section 2.a, and also apply to student employees.

3. Schedule of Job Categories

The following schedule is designed to promote consistency in student pay. Starting wages in these categories are based on the requirements of the job and the applicable experience of the student. Range within levels is available to allow employers' flexibility in setting student wage rates as job requirements and student performance vary widely. The wage scale is updated annually at All job postings must include the pay range for the position.

a. Level I

The work at this level requires that employees perform tasks characterized by a prescribed standard. Duties typically are repetitive and workers follow simple instructions that require little interpretation or skill. The supervisor determines work priorities and reviews work for accuracy. Typical kinds of work at this level include:

  • Office work requiring minimum skills, such as file clerk, messenger, or receptionist
  • Light manual labor such as animal caretaker, driver, or tour guide
  • Rudimentary laboratory work such as glassware washer
  • Library work such as shelving, checking in materials, completing forms, photocopying, or preparing materials for binding

b. Level II

At this level, employees have independent responsibility for the accurate completion of a variety of tasks requiring judgment and interpretation in applying procedures correctly. The supervisor generally reviews the work for correct final results. Typical kinds of work at this level include:

  • Office work requiring basic accounting, or knowledge of office machines
  • Strenuous labor such as gardener or storekeeper
  • Technical work requiring specialized skills such as photographer, or projectionist
  • Laboratory work requiring a moderate level of scientific knowledge
  • Library work such as answering information questions, basic use of claims and invoices, or nonroutine clerical duties

c. Level III

At this level, employees have substantial responsibility for determining work procedures and methods of work and for coordinating phases of work with others. Originality, analysis, and judgment are required to carry out work. The supervisor reviews work when guidance is required. Typical kinds of work include:

  • Computer programmer
  • Administrative assistant
  • Musician, or artist
  • Job recruiter
  • Library work that requires extensive use of foreign languages, having responsibility for a branch library or similar unit for long periods of time without supervision, or very specialized bibliographic searching including in-depth use of RLIN

4. Hiring, Paying, and Supervising Students

a. Hiring

The supervisor notifies the human resources administrator to make the appropriate system entry. Students should be hired into the appropriate Job Classification Code (JCC). The student must be hired into the university HR system before beginning work. Students who are hired during summer quarter, but who are not enrolled, must be hired as Student Hourly Employees using the appropriate Summer Student JCC. This step is required even if the student is continuing a work assignment that started during the academic year.  Procedures for hiring FWS students can be found at

Students who receive a university award that includes funding to hire undergraduate students to complete hourly work (e.g., coding, transcription, or other effort associated with academic projects) are subject to these policies. In such cases, the department should manage the funding and hire the student hourly employee.

b. Remote Work

Some departments may have work conducive to hiring student hourly employees who perform some, or all, of their work at a remote site. When considering whether a remote work arrangement is appropriate, managers should take into consideration, among other factors, the nature of the work, the costs, and whether the work should or must be performed remotely.

Decisions about the suitability of remote work arrangements are discretionary and require approval from the Dean or Associate Dean, Vice or Associate Vice Provost or Vice or Associate Vice President or designee as well as the local senior HR Manager.  Remote work performed outside of California is subject to Guide Memo 2.2.2 Out-of-State Employees.

c. Payment

Departments pay student workers from their own sources of funding, except for students who qualify for FWS. Hourly student workers must record actual hours worked in Axess Timecard each pay period. Each month has two pay periods: The first day of the month through the 15th and the 16th through the last day of the month. Paychecks are issued on the workday that falls on or immediately prior to the seventh calendar day after the end of each pay period.

d. Supervision

One person should be named as the student's immediate supervisor and should be directly accountable for overseeing the student's work and ensuring view and approval of hours worked in Axess.

e. Work Schedules

A student is expected to work the agreed hours, be punctual and satisfy all reasonable requirements of the employer with regard to performance and behavior. Most on-campus employers build in some flexibility in hours given students' exam schedules, but that is not always possible and students are expected to carry through if they have agreed to be at work.

f. Sick Time

Sick time provides a mechanism to pay student hourly employees when they are unable to perform their work responsibilities due to illness or for other related reasons. All Stanford student hourly employees receive sick time benefits. Arrangements for any variations in work hours, including time off for illness or related uses of sick time, should be made individually with the student hourly employee’s supervisor. To the extent possible, student hourly employees are encouraged to make arrangements outside of their working hours and supervisors are encouraged to offer flexibility in work hours. For information about the accrual and use of sick time for student hourly employees, see Administrative Guide Memo 10.3.1.