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Western Colorado's Selective University

Student Employee Handbook

This Student Employee Handbook is provided as a guide for student employees and their supervisors and does not constitute a contract of employment.

Colorado Mesa University recognizes the significant impact employment can have on our students' ability to fund their education and to facilitate entry into careers. As an integral part of the employment opportunities for students, the Financial Aid Office monitors student eligibility for on-campus employment.

Equal Opportunity Employer

Colorado Mesa University does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital or veteran status in its programs or activities. Departments are required to comply with this policy when conducting student employment functions. Persons having equal employment opportunity inquiries may contact the Department of Human Resources at 970.248.1266.

Types of Work Programs

There are three types of student work programs available at Colorado Mesa University:

  • Federal Work-Study: A federally funded program where the government subsidizes 75% of the student's wages. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be submitted and a student may be placed in the program as a part of the financial aid package if funds are available. A student must have demonstrated financial need to be eligible, and must accept the work-study award.
  • Colorado Work-Study: A state-funded program where the state subsidizes the student's wages. A FAFSA must be submitted, and a student may be placed on the program as a part of the financial aid package if funds are available. A student must accept the work-study award.
  • Student Assist: The student's salary is paid entirely through the department's budget. It is not necessary for the student to complete the FAFSA.


An interview for an on-campus position may be the student's first experience with employment searches. By conducting effective interviews, an employer can not only increase the likelihood of placing the best person in the position, but can also provide an excellent educational opportunity for applicants. An important aspect of the hiring process includes familiarizing the student with the duties and responsibilities of the position. An employer should provide the student with a job description and payroll information, and outline job performance expectations. A supervisor may also use this opportunity to discuss how and when employee evaluations are conducted, and to what extent these appraisals may affect raises and promotions.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit employers from requesting certain information that could be used for discriminatory purposes.

Hours & Timesheets

  • The scheduling of hours to be worked by a student will be arranged between the supervisor and the student. Students may not work more than eight hours per day and may not work more than 20 hours per week when classes are in session. Students may work up to 40 hours during the summer when classes are not in session. This will help ensure that a student can work for the entire academic year using work-study funding. Once a student employee earns the full amount of the work-study award, the student's employment will be terminated unless the department chooses to continue the employment under the Student Assist Program. In that event, the department will be responsible for 100% of the student's salary.
  • Electronic Timesheets can be found on MAVzone and should be submitted by Midnight on the last Saturday in a pay period. If a student needs help or is having technical problems, they need to contact student payroll at 970-248-1776. Students will have until 5 p.m. the Monday following the pay period end in order to contact student payroll with any issues.

Departmental Procedures for Hiring Students

  • Each new student worker in a department must complete a work authorization card. The employing department provides the card. The student must bring the completed card to the Payroll Office. An I-9 and W4 form will then be completed for the student's signature. Once the student has completed all paperwork required by the Payroll Department, the Payroll Department will issue a Student Release to Work Form, which the student must return to the employing department. All employers must have a job description on file for each position in their department.

Employment Dates for Student Employees

  • Student Assist: Enrollment for the previous semester and pre-registration for the upcoming semester are required for any summer student assist worker who is not enrolled during a summer semester.
  • Work-Study: Due to the high demand for work-study awards, students will be given four weeks from the time school starts to find employment. If no action is taken by the student to find work, the award will be canceled. With the exception of summer, students must be enrolled for a minimum of twelve credits in each semester of employment. For summer employment work-study students must be enrolled in at least 3 credit hours of summer school.

Payroll Deductions

Colorado Mesa University utilizes a private retirement plan as an alternative to Social Security. A degree seeking student who is enrolled in at least six credit hours in the academic year and working less than 40 hours per week is classified primarily as a student, and therefore does not have to contribute to retirement. A student who is enrolled in fewer than six hours during the fall and spring semesters, must contribute to retirement. During the summer, the enrollment requirement drops to three credit hours; all other standards remain the same. The retirement plan provider is TIAA/CREF. Questions about retirement funds should be directed to them at their toll-free number, 1-800-842-2776.

  • FICA TAX AND STUDENT EMPLOYMENT: Employing departments DO NOT pay benefits, including FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) on students enrolled at least half time during the semester in which he/she is employed and is in a degree seeking program. Departments are reminded to limit the number of hours worked by any student to no more than 20 hours per week. An employed student who drops below half-time enrollment or is not enrolled in a degree seeking program is required to contribute to TIAA/CREF and is subject to FICA tax.
  • FEDERAL AND STATE INCOME TAX: Wages received by student employees are subject to federal and state income tax deductions.

Supervision of Student Employees

  • Communication between the supervisor and student employee increases departmental productivity and the educational value of work for the student. Students should be made aware of the general work performance standards of the employing department. This encourages responsible behavior and ensures accountability. Reinforcing good behavior serves to increase student productivity, and contributes to higher levels of morale. Departments are also likely to retain more student employees, and reduce costs associated with training new hires.

General Work Performance Expectations

In accepting a campus position, a student assumes work responsibility for which he/she will be held accountable. The list below describes the general work performance expectations. Departments may have more specific expectations of their employees. In no event do these expectations create a contract of employment. All student employees are at-will employees and the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time without cause or prior notice.

  1. Students should always report to work on time and let the supervisor know when he or she reports for work. The student employee should always contact his/her supervisor if it is impossible for him/her to show up for work on time.
  2. The student employee should immediately bring to the supervisor's attention any problems or concerns he/she may have pertaining to the job.
  3. The student employee should request permission in advance to be absent from work if special circumstances arise.
  4. A student employee should perform the duties assigned to the best of his/her ability.
  5. A student employee should dress appropriately for the job as directed by his/her employer.
  6. A student employee should give his/her supervisor a one-week notice if resigning from a job

General Student Grievance Procedure

  • If a student has a grievance, the student employee should meet with the immediate supervisor and an earnest attempt should be made to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. Within two business days of the meeting the immediate supervisor shall provide a verbal response to the student's grievance 
  • If the student does not believe that the grievance has been satisfactorily resolved, the student may, within two business days, appeal the grievance to the department head. The department head will provide a verbal response to the student's appeal within two business days. If the student fails to meet the two-day deadline to appeal to the department head, the grievance shall be considered resolved. 
  • If the student continues to believe that the grievance has not been satisfactorily resolved, the student may, within five business days after the department head's response, appeal the grievance, in writing, to the Director of Financial Aid. If the student fails to meet the five-day deadline to appeal to the Director of Financial Aid, the grievance shall be considered resolved. If appealed, the Work Study Coordinator and the Director of Financial Aid shall review the grievance. A decision shall be made, in writing, within 10 business days of the appeal. This decision shall be final.

Evaluation of Student Employees

Routine evaluation of employees permits the supervisor to measure performance and also presents a source of feedback for students. Supervisors are encouraged to perform evaluations once per semester and meet with student employees to discuss performance

Dismissal of Student Employees

Each employing department has discretion to determine the grounds for dismissal. The Decision to dismiss a student employee may not violate that employee's civil rights. Terminated students may be eligible to seek other campus employment. In order to prevent the generation of additional time sheets, the Payroll Office must be notified, by memo, of the dismissal.