Work-Study Handbook

For Federal, State, and Crimson Scholar Work-Study Programs

The Purpose of This Handbook

To offer assistance to work-study employees and their employers regarding effective procedures and regulations for work-study employment


The work-study program is administered by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services and provides funding for student employment on campus. There are three categories of work-study: Federal, State, and Crimson Scholar. Work-study is funded by federal, state, and/or institutional allocations and is awarded to students who qualify. The work-study funds must be matched by employers. The current match is 70% is covered by Federal or State, and 30% by the employer this includes Crimson Scholar work-study. This is subject to change due to federal requirements, and/or availability of funds. The student’s work-study award amount includes both the work-study funds and the match from the employer.

Federal Work-Study positions must not involve constructing, operating, or maintaining any part of a building used for religious worship or sectarian instruction.

Federal Work-Study employment must not displace employees (including those on strike) or impair existing service contracts. Replacement is interpreted as displacement.

General Guidelines for Supervisors/Employers

  • Develop accurate and useful job descriptions for all positions.
  • Interview each applicant in a similar fashion. It is recommended that the supervisor ask each candidate of a particular position, similar questions and put the interviewee at ease during the interviewing process. All questions asked should be job-related. Students should have a current copy of the Award Overview myNMSU page with them at the time of the interview.
  • Agree upon scheduled work hours that are compatible with the employer and the student’s class schedule. This means that work schedules cannot conflict with the student's course schedule or required scheduled assignments.
  • Inform work-study students of all duties and responsibilities and supply any other information they may require such as pay per hour, line of authority, etc.
  • Train student employees to successfully carry out all the necessary duties of the job.
  • Inform student employees of any changes in procedures, scheduling, or working conditions.
  • See that all employee work hours are reported accurately and that work performed during that time was satisfactory.
  • Develop good working relations with all employees.
  • Correct inappropriate behavior as soon as possible. Immediate action should be taken to explain why the behavior was incorrect and exactly what is expected of the employee. (Refer to the NMSU Policy Manual for guidance).
  • Resolve problems pertaining to performance or working relations with an employee. If no resolution can be reached, the supervisor should bring the problem to the attention of the department head.
  • If involuntary termination is necessary, provide a reasonable explanation for the termination to both the worker and the department head.
  • It is recommended that evaluations of student employees be conducted at least once a semester. An evaluation system should be established for each department. The immediate supervisor performs the evaluation. The purpose of the evaluation is to create a learning environment for the student by discussing strengths and weaknesses, providing for recognition of good work, as well as presenting guidelines for improvement. Students should be advised in advance that they will be evaluated and that appraisal forms will become a part of their employment file in the employing department.
  • Pay increases are recommended for continuing work-study students upon request of the immediate supervisor. This can be done at the beginning of each semester to students who merit this increase to motivate continued good work and increased responsibility.
  • Maintain accurate accounting of employees’ hours worked and meet payroll deadline dates.
  • Employers are responsible for ensuring work-study students monitor their worked hours on a weekly basis to avoid any conflict at the end of the pay period. This includes ensuring work-study employees do not exceed 20 worked hours per week.
  • Employers must verify the type of work-study received every academic semester with a printed work-study Award Overview letter and adjust work schedules to those funding limits.
  • Keep track of all students’ work-study hours and their remaining award balances available to earn for each semester. It is very important that the student does not exceed the award amount. The department must pay 100% of the overage. Employers will be billed back for students working past semester funding limits and allowable employment dates.
  • Work-study funds should be exhausted by the end of every semester – unused funds will not be transferred from semester to semester.
  • A graduating student may not be employed as a work-study student employee past the date of course work completion. The last day of classes is the last day a graduating student is allowed to work.

General Guidelines for Work-study Employees

  • Know and satisfactorily perform specific duties as assigned by employer/supervisor.
  • Cooperate in scheduling work periods. Proactively inform your employer of any required scheduled assignments, to avoid scheduling conflicts. Once a schedule is established the student is responsible for working those hours. A student may be required to work during holidays or during finals week. This should be verified with the supervisor well in advance of the holiday or finals.
  • You and your employer are responsible for keeping track of your worked hours, and not exceeding the amount of your semester award by using the Earnings Calculator.
  • Record time worked accurately and consistently at the end of each work period. You should be able to access your online timesheet within two weeks of being hired. If you are not able to access an online timesheet, inform your supervisor. He or she will help you resolve problems with your online timesheet. Submitting your timesheet late will result in a delayed paycheck.
  • Report to work on time and inform the supervisor whenever it is not possible to do so. Notification should be given as soon as possible so the employer can make arrangements to cover for the absence. The same procedure should be taken when the student is unable to work a scheduled shift. The student should be prepared to give a reason for absence.
  • Establish good working relationships with your supervisor and other department members.
  • Know student employee rights. Students have basic non-discrimination and employment rights. If a problem with a supervisor cannot be resolved by discussion within the employing department, the student may address the issue with Financial Aid Office personnel.
  • Inform the supervisor of any plans to end employment. The customary notification time period is two weeks.
  • Work-study employees are required to notify the employer of any changes in their work-study awards. For example, if a student receives a scholarship and as a result, their work-study award was reduced, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the supervisor of the changes to the work-study award. 
  • Work-study is a regular job and will establish work behaviors that will carry over into future jobs.
  • Work-study funds should be exhausted by the end of every semester – unused funds will not be transferred from semester to semester.
  • Students participating in Study Abroad are not eligible for work-study.

Qualifying Criteria and Application Procedures

Students interested in any type of work-study award must apply each year by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The resulting federal need analysis aids in determining eligibility for work-study. Students cannot complete the FAFSA earlier than October 1st and are encouraged to apply no later than March 1st of each year for the upcoming award year. The award year begins the first day of the fall term and ends the last day of summer session two.

Students are awarded on an individual basis. An award is the maximum amount that may be earned by the student during the specified award period. The award reflects the 100% earnings amount, not the matching percentage.

Federal and state programs require that students maintain a minimum enrollment of six credits for undergraduates, or five credits for graduates, each semester. Summer term enrollment must total six credits for undergraduates or five credits for graduates. State work-study recipients must be New Mexico residents. Students awarded Crimson Scholar work-study must maintain Crimson Scholar status. Work-study students must maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by the Financial Aid Office.

NMSU full-time or part-time staff is not eligible for work-study funds.

Academic Progress

Students receiving financial aid will be subject to the following requirements for maintaining satisfactory academic progress:

  1. Students must successfully complete credit hours each semester; i.e., 6 hours for half-time, 9 hours for three-quarters, or 12 hours for full-time status.
  2. Undergraduate students must maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average, or better.
  3. Graduate students must maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average.
  4. Students under non-degree, or early admission status, are not eligible for the federal and state work-study programs.

All students, both undergraduate and graduate, are required to pass and complete 70% of all classes attempted.

Employer Responsibilities

Employer Share

Work-study employers are expected to match 30% of the total work-study awarded amount to the student. The award letter indicates the total amount the student is eligible to earn for a given semester. For example, if a student is awarded a total of $2000 in work-study funds for the fall semester, the wages will be covered as follows: 70% ($1400) with state or federal work-study funds and 30% ($600) with hiring department funds.

Based on current Department of Education regulations,* when a work-study employer chooses to use federal funds to pay for the non-federal share, in this case, the 30% match, the department is required to corroborate that the federal agency providing the funds authorizes the employer to use those funds for the payment of Federal work-study wages. This applies to both on or off-campus student employment.

Federally sponsored award recipients should document that the agency accepts absorbing/paying the non-federal share of work-study on behalf of the institution, otherwise, the wage expense will be considered an unallowable award expense and will be transferred off of the award.

*FWS Non-federal Share Sources, Ch. 2, The Federal Work-Study; Volume 6 – The Campus-Based Programs, 2019-2020, page 44-45, FSA HB November 2019.

Employment Planning

Employers should project their employment needs before the beginning of each semester since most students seek employment at the beginning of the semester. Consequently, it is more difficult to employ a work-study student later in the semester. Many jobs that remain unfilled are those that require highly specialized skills, rigid working hours, or other very specific requirements.

Employers must verify the type of work-study received every academic year and make the necessary changes. For example, state to federal. Wages paid under the incorrect index will be charged to the department at 100%.

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the student’s earnings do not exceed the work-study award for the Academic Year. IF EARNINGS EXCEED THE AWARD, THE EMPLOYER MUST PAY 100% OF THE OVERAGE. Work-study awards are subject to revision, increase or decrease because of changes to a student’s situation, and/or availability of funding. If the student’s work-study award is modified, it is the student’s responsibility to notify their supervisor of such change.

If a student depletes his/her work-study funds, any overage that may have occurred will be billed to their hiring department/employer. The office of Financial Aid will submit an Electronic Labor Redistribution (ELR) when students run out of funds and an email will be sent to the department notifying them effective date to term student from work study employment. 

End of Fall 

Students graduating MUST be terminated by the last day of finals week

End of Spring 

Students graduating MUST be terminated by the last day of finals week

Students not Graduating MUST be terminated May 15th.

Summer Qualifications

Students not enrolled in a minimum of 6 credits for summer do not qualify for summer work-study


Remind your student employees early in October to reapply for financial aid for the upcoming academic year. Students who are work-study rehires will not receive work-study automatically. They must submit a FAFSA every year and go through the process with all other students. Work-study funds are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. All students should make sure they keep track of the status of their financial aid files and requirements. The financial aid packaging system awards on a 9-month period of enrollment (Fall-Spring). If a student is planning to attend one or both summer sessions, he/she should make an appointment to discuss funding with a financial aid advisor immediately after enrolling for the summer session(s). The student and advisor will work together to determine summer work-study eligibility.

Job Postings

Work-study job announcements are posted in the Handshake App. Students can register their account via MyNMSU and will need to upload a resume and search for jobs using their account for both work-study and regular student employment.  NMSU employers will need to connect with their on-campus Point of Contact (POC) to request an account. To locate your On-Campus Point of Contact (select from the On-Campus Employers  POC List) This first step only needs to take place once. If you leave your current position and move to a different NMSU department you will need to register for a new account with a different POC.  Call or email your Point of Contact and request an invitation to join their unit.  Your POC will verify that you are employed in this reporting division or college and send you an invitation to establish an Employer Manager account (powered by Handshake). Follow the directions provided by your POC in the invitation email that you receive.  If you are taking classes (also a student) please call Career Services at 575-646-1631 prior to contacting your Point of Contact.  Some modifications will need to be made as you already have a Handshake student account.  These modifications will need to be completed with NMSU Career Services in order to prep your Handshake profile to also be able to log into an Employer Manager account.

Salary Ranges

Salary ranges and job titles must match the new description that HR defined when they introduced the EPAF.

The job titles listed below can be used to fit any department description and are from the Student Employment Handbook:

Student Aide

Minimum Hourly Pay: $12.00 / hour

Student Aide positions are generally clerical, labor, or service-worker jobs. These positions are often entry-level positions. Undergraduate and graduate students may be employed as Student Aides.

Student Assistant

Minimum Hourly Pay: $12.00 / hour

Student Assistant positions are often more technical and/or more professional in nature. Student Assistant positions may also entail significant responsibility, and/or require previous experience. Undergraduate and graduate students may be employed as Student Assistants.

Student Graduate Specialist

Minimum Hourly Pay: $12.00 / hour

Graduate student employees whose duties are of a technical and/or professional nature similar to those performed by Graduate Assistants (e.g., Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, etc.). Graduate Specialists generally will be paid hourly at rates of pay equivalent to those of Graduate Assistants, as determined by the Graduate School Dean.

Award Screens

  1. A student awarded work-study may print a copy of the online financial aid award screen to submit proof of their work-study award. Awards are subject to change without notice, so the screen should have a current date. The award screen shows the name and Aggie ID, as well as the type and amount of the award and the dates of the award period. For example, if you were awarded $7200 for the Fall/Spring Academic Year, your award amount for the fall is $3600 and $3600 for the spring. If you are hired at a minimum wage of $12.00 then the maximum amount of hours the student can work per semester would be ($3600.00/$12.00) = 300 hrs per semester.

Award Information

The hiring department must calculate the number of hours the student will be able to work per week without exceeding the award. Make sure the award screen shows a current date. It is recommended employers request a current copy of the award screen to alert the employer of changes in the total award.

Under Earnings Calculator located on the Employers page. A link has been provided to an Excel spreadsheet, designed to be used as an earning calculator.

Note: The award reflects the total amount the employee may earn, not the matching figure. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that earnings do not exceed the award.

Students are awarded on an individual basis, and an award is a maximum amount that may be earned by the student during the specified award period. However, the award reflects the 100% earnings amount, not the matching percentage. It is recommended employers reconcile monthly accounts to ensure the department has been charged correctly for its portion of work-study payroll. Also, it is recommended that employers periodically request copies of work-study award screens to monitor award changes and earnings-to-date. If earnings exceed the award, the employer must pay 100% of the student’s salary. Awards are subject to revision, increase or decrease, and/or availability of funding. The award goes to the student, not the department. Therefore, if a student changes jobs, he/she needs to provide a current copy of the award screen to the new employer. Earnings on the award screen are usually current as of the last pay-date.

As a courtesy, the Financial Aid Office makes every effort to increase a student’s award upon request if: 1) funding is available, and 2) the student meets all eligibility criteria. When semester funds are nearing exhaustion, students may visit with their financial aid advisors to inquire about increases to their awards.

To calculate the average number of working hours per week based on the total award received by the student, do the following:

  1. Total work-study award divided by the total of working weeks during the semester equals the average earnings per week.
  2. Average earnings per week divided by the hourly rate equals the total average working hours per week.

For example: A student who received $3,600.00 for the fall semester found a job that pays $12.00 per hour.

To calculate the average earnings per week: 3600/16 weeks = $225

To calculate the average working hours per week: $225/$12.00 = 18.75

  • The higher a student’s hourly salary, the more likely the work-study funds will be exhausted before the awarded session ends. In this event, the employer must either terminate the student’s employment or hire the student as a regular student employee. Students may visit with their financial aid advisors to ask about increasing their awards. Work-study funds should be exhausted by the end of every semester – unused funds will not be transferred from semester to semester.


A work-study student may work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session. No overtime pay will be allowed for work studies. During summer sessions (a separate work-study award is required for summer sessions) a work-study student may work a maximum of 20 hours per week. Students with available funds may work up to 40 hours per week during fall break, winter break, spring break, and the week between end-of-spring semester and summer session and end-of-summer session and the beginning of the fall semester. No student may perform work on any project under the work-study program for more than 8 hours a day.

Meal Periods – Rest Breaks: There shall be an unpaid duty-free meal break of at least thirty (30) minutes for employees working on shifts of six (6) hours or more. A fifteen (15) minute work break is allowed for each 4-hour segment (or major portion thereof) of the work period; as feasible, approximately in the middle of each segment of the work period.


Work-study students must be paid at an hourly rate according to federal minimum wage guidelines. It is recommended that departments follow the suggested pay rate allowance to ensure that students performing equal or similar jobs receive comparable wages.

NOTE: The federal minimum wage must be adhered to as a minimum.

Pay increases to continuing students can be instituted upon request of immediate supervisor. A raise should be given to students who merit this increase as motivation for continued good performance and increased job responsibilities. Changes to pay rates should be entered on a Personnel Action Form (PAF).

Students are paid on the 15th and last workday of each month, or on designated paydays set by the Payroll Office. Paychecks are sent to the employing department. Work studies at off-campus agencies pick up payroll checks at the Payroll Office in Hadley Hall.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, prohibits employers (including schools) from accepting voluntary services from any paid employee. Any student employed under work-study must be paid for all hours worked.


The employer/supervisor must first make sure the student has a current work-study award. New student employees as well as rehires must have current awards. The employer/supervisor should inform the student of job responsibilities and discuss specific skills required. The employer should discuss working hours and the student’s class schedule. The employer/supervisor should establish a rapport with the student and be aware that the student may not have the necessary interviewing skills required to impress a potential employer.

A student may not begin work until the hiring process has been completed and the students’ eligibility for work-study has been confirmed.


Employers complete the EPAF process and request a copy of the award letter for students selected for work-study employment. Make sure that the Grade and Index match the student’s award.

Off-campus agencies' hiring process is to be completed by Financial Aid and Scholarship Services Department.

Hiring Process

Work-study hires are completed via EPAF. Upon receiving EPAF confirmation, departments must retain on record for each work-study student under their employment: a file containing a copy of the work-study award letter, a copy of the EPAF confirmation, and a job description. The I-9 form and the W4 Form must be completed for new hires. The I-9 form must have all the information requested to verify the student’s citizenship or visitation rights. It must be completed in full or this will cause a delay in the hiring process. The student and the employer must sign and complete the I-9 on the same date. It must be completed within 3 working days of hiring. I-9 forms and W4 forms are submitted to the Payroll Office. For hiring dates, visit our website at:

Job Descriptions

Terminations and resignations require a PAF sent to the Payroll Office. NOTE: If personnel problems exist with your student employee, you should refer to the procedures written in the NMSU Policy Manual in reference to handling disciplinary actions or involuntary terminations. (See Probation or Terminations in this handbook for a brief outline.)



Hours worked must be documented on an online timesheet. It is important that work-study employees record hours worked each day. The supervisor must verify the hours worked at the end of each pay period. Employers may require the student to submit a paper timesheet as well.

A timesheet should be reviewed by the department for accuracy. Some departments have a separate timesheet on which the student reports working hours at the end of each day.

Employers should retain a copy of the timesheet for their records. The student’s total hours should not exceed the maximum work hours (20 hours/calendar week).

Do not estimate hours not yet worked. You can only pay for hours actually worked. If there are any questions on processing procedures, please call the work-study area at Financial Aid (575-646-4105).

An employer may use the Work-study Earnings Calculator in order to help track the student’s earnings.

Payroll Deadlines

Payroll deadline dates are established and published by the NMSU Payroll Office, telephone number 575-646-8000.

COVID Vaccination

Students are expected to abide by COVID Vaccination Guidelines. Please review for more information.

Training Guidelines

The immediate supervisor should conduct a training session with each new work-study hired. This should occur on the first day of work. It is the duty of the supervisor to furnish the new employee with clear responsibilities and expectations.

The supervisor should explain the work procedures. It is also suggested that each department have some written explanation of the duties for each job within the department.

During a training session, the supervisor should inform the new employee of office policy in regard to where and when to report for work, office dress recommendations, how and who to notify in case of absence, how to report hours worked, and where paychecks can be picked up and any other necessary information.


All new work-study employees are employed in a probationary status for the first three months, during which time the student determines if the position is acceptable, and the supervisor determines whether or not the student is able to perform satisfactorily in the position. A student employee who does not meet the required standard of performance during the probationary period may be terminated without prior notice or recourse to the grievance procedure. The student employee may also resign without notice. Terminations during this time of involuntary termination should be approved by the head of the hiring department or agency.


Voluntary Termination

The student’s employment may be terminated at the student’s request. Such a request is usually presented to the employing department in written or verbal form. Employers should process a PAF.

Involuntary Termination

The student’s employment may be involuntarily terminated for justifiable reasons. However, it is the University’s policy to provide the employee with an opportunity to correct job-related deficiencies which have been noted by the supervisor. The employee must be given a reasonable opportunity to make progress toward corrections. Failure to make satisfactory progress may result in disciplinary action and/or involuntary termination.

The following are considered justifiable reasons for involuntary termination:

  1. Depleted budget.
  2. Failure to meet eligibility criteria:
    1. The work-study program requires that students maintain a minimum enrollment of six credits for undergraduate students, or five credits for graduate students, each semester.
    2. Failure to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.
    3. The student withdraws from the University entirely.
  3. Performance Issues
    1. The student does not perform in a satisfactory manner
    2. The student does not schedule working hours in accordance with job description.
  4. Immediate Termination for Gross Misconduct:
    1. Dishonesty, sleeping during job hours, fighting or threatening a supervisor and/or other co-workers, or misconduct on the University property or elsewhere negatively affecting the interest, reputation, or safety of the University or its employees.
    2. Use of alcohol or narcotics, or being under the influence of such while on the job.
    3. Insubordination or refusal to accept a valid assignment from an authorized supervisor.
    4. Conviction of a job-related felony.
    5. Student behavior is careless, negligent, improper or disrespectful.
    6. Malicious use or theft of University property, equipment or funds.

An involuntary termination must be properly documented with a PAF, attached documentation and a higher level approval. The PAF must include comments and a written statement provided to the student employee and the Department Head/Director must give prior approval before any student is dismissed or removed from duty. Coaching and counseling sessions may be beneficial in strengthening students’ work ethic, thus preparing them for careers upon completion of degree programs.

Immediate Termination

In certain instances, the employing department may dismiss or remove any student employee immediately. Refer to the NMSU Policy Manual for guidance regarding immediate termination.

Grievance Procedures

Misunderstandings and disagreements between an employer and a work-study employee may arise regarding terms and conditions of employment. These disagreements should be resolved promptly through a discussion between the student employee and the immediate supervisor.

If a resolution is not found, the student employee may appeal to the next level of administration within the hiring department or agency.

At any step or level of the proceedings, the employee or supervisor may ask a representative of the Financial Aid Office to serve as a consultant to the proceedings. In such cases, the consultant will serve in an information gathering and advising capacity only.

NOTE: In alleged cases of discrimination, the employee should notify the EEO/ADA Office. For help in contacting the EEO/ADA Office, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Off-Campus Employment

New Mexico State University contracts with off-campus agencies to employ work-study students. Employment at off-campus agencies must be non-religious and non-political. New Mexico State University contracts exclusively with non-profit agencies.

Organizations interested in participating in the work-study program must provide documentation of their non-profit status and Charter or Articles of Incorporation. Contracts must be signed by the off-campus agency and Financial Aid Office personnel before hiring procedures can begin. Payroll forms for off-campus agencies are available at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services.

Employers are sent a billing statement from the NMSU Business and Finance Office each month. This statement reflects the employer’s 30% matching amount. Delinquent accounts may result in the termination of the agency’s contract.

Community Service

Institutions are required to allocate a percentage of work-study funds for community service employment.

Community service positions must be designed to improve the quality of life for community residents. Health care, child care, literacy training, education (tutorial), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development, and community improvement are examples of community service areas. Services must be available to the general public.

Community service programs may be located on or off campus. Institutions are required to allocate a percentage of federal work-study funds to the America Reads/Family Literacy tutoring program. There is no employer funding match. Students interested in this type of community service employment must qualify for work-study, as well as meet criteria established by the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

Crimson Scholar Work-study Program

Program Description

Crimson Scholars who want a Crimson Scholar work-study award must have a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file every year. Crimson Scholars students may locate job openings using their Handshake app account through MyNMSU. If the student is selected for a Crimson Scholar position, the hiring department must complete the Crimson Scholar Work-study Request Form. Financial Aid personnel will process the form after all the required information has been completed. Eligibility and approval for the award requested are based on other financial aid awards. If the student has an existing federal or state work-study award but the student hasn’t already earned a salary, the existing award will be completely removed and replaced by a Crimson Scholar award. The department will be notified via fax of the student’s approval or denial of the requested work-study award.

The Crimson Scholar work program is funded by New Mexico and/or Institutional work-study funds and a departmental matching account. Crimson Scholar work-study funds pay 70% of the student's earnings and departmental funds pay the other 30%. Students must be New Mexico residents to receive In-State Crimson Scholar work-study awards. Students must be non-New Mexico residents to receive Out-of-State Crimson Scholar work-study awards.

Last updated July 2021.