Information for Off-Campus Employers

How Are Work-Study Jobs Created?

Before setting up a work-study supervisor account with the University of Pennsylvania, please read the following to ensure that you are employing students for an eligible position.

Employment under work-study may involve public interest work, which is considered work performed for the national or community welfare. Work performed to benefit a particular interest, individual, or group is not permitted.

Work is NOT eligible for work-study if:

  • It impairs existing service contracts.
  • It displaces regular employees.
  • It fills jobs that are vacant because regular employees are on strike.
  • It primarily benefits the members of a limited membership organization such as a credit union, fraternal or religious order, or a cooperative.
  • It involves the construction, maintenance, or operation of any part of a facility used or to be used for religious worship or sectarian instruction.
  • A student's political support or party affiliation is taken into account in hiring the student.
  • It involves any partisan or nonpartisan political activity associated with a faction in an election for public or party office.
  • It is work as a political aide for any elected official.
  • It involves work for an elected official outside the regular administration of federal, state, or local government.
  • It involves lobbying on the federal, state, or local level.

Federal Work-Study Community Service

Federal Work-Study students are encouraged to pursue employment that is community service related. Community service positions contribute to the improvement in the quality of life for area residents by helping solve particular problems related to their needs. Job categories that are considered community service include:

  • Health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutorial service), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development, community improvement, and emergency preparedness and response.
  • Support services to enrolled students with disabilities
  • Activities in which a student serves as a mentor for purposes such as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities, and counseling, including career counseling.

Per the U.S. Department of Education, students may be employed in community service positions that provide either direct or indirect services to the community. For example, it is acceptable for a Federal Work-Study student to be employed in a clerical position for a food bank. It is not required that the student be involved in delivering services directly.

Student Employment Management System (SEMS)

A work-study student may only work for a supervisor who has a SEMS account and job listing. The Student Employment Management System (SEMS) is the method by which any full-time employee of a nonprofit organization or government agency can create a work-study job online. The supervisor is responsible for maintaining their work-study job listing, and should be the person responsible for the supervision of the student once hired.

A new off-campus employer who is interested in employing work-study students must first register a SEMS account through Student Employment. Please contact the Off-Campus Work-Study Coordinator, Tam Nguyen, at 215-573-9171 or send an e-mail to After the employer has successfully created the job, it is placed in a pending approval state, and an e-mail is automatically sent to Tam Nguyen for approval. Once approved, the work-study job is posted to the Student Employment Job Search site.

Hiring Students

If the employer wishes to hire a student, then the employer must sign an Off-Campus Work-Study Agreement, which will obligate the employer to pay a matching share of the student's gross authorized earnings up to the maximum amount of the student's work-study award. The matching share rate is 30%.

The supervisor must request a copy of the student’s class schedule at the time of the interview, in order to ensure there is no conflict between class times and the work schedule.

Once the student is hired, the supervisor will use the Student Employment Management System (SEMS), to appoint a student online to a job number using the student's Penn ID number. An e-mail confirming the student's job appointment will be sent to the student, supervisor, and Tam Nguyen. 

A new student employee may not begin working until all required documents are completed by the student: W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and online I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). The student must bring these documents to Onboard@Penn. 

NOTE: International students are NOT permitted to work off campus.

Student Orientation

It is the supervisor's responsibility to familiarize the student employee with the organization's standards of behavior and to make sure the student receives proper training in order to accomplish the tasks assigned.

We recommend that the supervisor review the following topics with the student:

  • Review the job responsibilities so there is a clear understanding of what is expected of the student
  • Review issues of confidentiality and sensitive information
  • Safety and health practices (if applicable)
  • Use of electronic devices
  • In the event of the supervisor's absence, to which other staff member can the student direct problems or questions

How Are Student Employees Paid?

Time Reporting

Federal and University regulations require that weekly hours must be supported by a listing of clock hours worked for each work-study student.

Beginning July 1, all student workers will enter their time on Workday@PennA student’s hours cannot be held for a period of time, and then submitted all at once. University regulations require that a student employee must be paid weekly. 

A student cannot be paid for lunch, holidays, sick time, and other time off, or for receiving instruction in the classroom, laboratory, or other academic setting.