Q&A: Employing Students during COVID Preparedness

Below is a Q&A for departments continuing to employ students during COVID-19. This page will be updated as information becomes available. If you have additional questions that are not answered here, please send an email to sesemp@cornell.edu.

In this Q&A: 

Employment for Spring 2020: 

Viewing Information:

Paying Students:

Looking Forward: 


Can students work remotely?

  • Students who were already employed as of March 13th can continue their employment remotely if so approved by their employer.
    • Remote workers must continue to demonstrate professionalism and comply with University policies.
  • Employing non-Federal Work Study students is at the discretion of the hiring department in consultation with their HR unit.
  • Students paid on grants are eligible for continued pay as remote workers based on the discretion of their department in coordination with their HR unit.
  • International students on J1 and F1 visas and international non-exempt workers who will have left the US are ineligible for remote work. 
  • Off-campus work within the U.S. is permitted for F-1 or J-1 student workers as long as they are paid by Cornell, and the student maintains valid immigration status and is an active Cornell student.

What do I need to consider for my student employee(s) to work remotely?

  • Start and end dates for remote work?
  • Best contact number for students during anticipated work hours?
  • Number of hours planned per week? 
  • What form and frequency of interaction will occur between the supervisor and the student employee?
  • What work is to be completed? 
  • How will the productivity and quality of work be measured? 

Is a new job description needed if students are working remotely?

  • Supervisors are encouraged to discuss remote work with student employees and outline an agreement in writing of the expected duties to be performed.

What if I can only assign remote opportunities to some of my student employees, not all?

  • Please document in writing and save for potential review the experience or skills that differentiate the students who will be working remotely from those who will not.

What should I do if I can’t assign or supervise remote work for my student employee(s)?

  • If the student employee(s) will not be continuing on remotely, continue to pay each Federal Work Study employee during the next four pay periods (03/12-05/06/2020) within the parameters of their FWS eligibility and scheduled weekly hours.
    • 70% warning notifications will continue as normal.
    • Students should be paid for hours they would have worked had they continued working regularly through May 6, 2020.
      • The student may or may not earn their full Federal Work Study award, but you would pay what the student would’ve earned if they were still working on campus.
  • For students that are not paid through Federal Work Study, continuing to pay these employees is at the discretion of the employing department, in coordination with their HR Unit.

How do I pay my student employee(s) for unworked time?

  • A new time entry code has been created to pay students hours they were scheduled to work but unable to: Unworked Time – COVID-19.
    • This should be entered by the supervisor, manager, timekeeper, or pay rep.
    • This time code will adjust automatically based on the job designation – FWS positions or non-FWS positions.
    • Please refer to the University Payroll Office's time tracking job aid: How to Enter Time for Students - COVID-19.
      • In the Comments section of the time entry screen, please document how student hours were determined when using this time code.
      • If you cannot leave a comment, you must create and maintain documentation in your records until 4 years after the student has graduated.
  • Due to the circumstances, unearned income is allowed for student employees.
    • Cornell is committed to continuing to pay Federal Work Study (FWS) students using their FWS subsidy.
      • University employers must continue to match FWS funds (contribute 50% of total earnings).
    • Continuing to pay non-Federal Work Study students is at the discretion of the employing department in consulation with their HR unit.

How can I identify hourly student employees in my org?

  • Workday has a report titled “Student Hourly Appointments”
    • Filter by “Appointment as of” and “Organization”

How can I identify which of my student employees are currently being paid through FWS funds?

  • Once you have filtered the Student Hourly Appointments report by date and org, you can narrow the report further by selecting the filter grid date icon in the upper right.
    • Filter > Add > Column: Federal Work Study > Value: Regular (for FWS paid students) or Value: <Blanks> (for non-FWS paid students)

How do I check Federal Work Study eligibility for my student employee(s)?

  • Employers can access eligibility for FWS through:
    • CU SES Eligibility Inquiry page in PeopleSoft.
      • Navigation: Main Menu > Workforce Administration > CU SES > CU SES Eligibility Inquiry
    • The Student Record in Workday.
      • The Workday student record only indicates FWS eligibility, not FWS remaining balances.
      • In the Workday search bar, if you type ‘student: first name last name’ it will pull up the student record. You can also click on “Student” from the choices on the left after typing in the student name.
      • Work Study Eligibility status in Workday can be found on the student record under Overview. The indicator will appear to the right.

How can I find remaining FWS balances for my student employee(s)?

  • FWS balances can be seen, by term, through the CU SES Eligibility Inquiry page in PeopleSoft – security access is required.
    • This method identifies students one-by-one.
  • The Workday Student Hourly Appointments report includes remaining FWS balances for all FWS students within your organization.
  • These balances should be current as of the last pay period (3/11/2020).

How do I request access to view FWS information in PeopleSoft?

  • If access is needed to the CU SES Eligibility Inquiry page, please submit a Student Data Access request.
  • Once the information on top is filled out and the staff NetID needing access is entered, scroll down to “Student Employment Document” (at the bottom), and select “yes” for the SE Eligibility Inquiry.
    • This request will route to be approved by the staff’s department.
    • If a valid Confidentiality Agreement Form is not on file, one will need to be completed by the staff gaining access.
    • Once approved, this will allow the staff to view the FWS balances and International Student I-9 expiration dates in PeopleSoft (for paper forms completed prior to 08/01/2019).

Can I submit time on behalf of my student employee(s)?

  • If the student employee will continue working with your department, normal time tracking procedures should be followed.

How do I pay students with multiple jobs?

  • Each position should be reviewed and considered separately.

If a student is working remotely, but only half the hours they were previously working, how do I submit those hours in Workday?

  • Actual hours worked should continue to be submitted through Workday as usual.
  • Unearned hours should be entered as Unworked Time – COVID-19 in the Time Type field.
    • In the Comments section of the time entry screen, please document how student hours were determined when using this time code.
    • If you cannot leave a comment, you must create and maintain documentation in your records until 4 years after the student has graduated.

How much should students be paid?

  • Students should be paid the wage rate that they would have been paid if they were able to work the scheduled hours.

How do I determine how many hours my student employee(s) should be paid for?

  • Students should be paid for hours they would have worked had they continued working regularly through May 6, 2020.
    • If a student only worked 4 hours a week, they should be paid consistently with 4 hours a week.
    • The student may or may not earn their full Federal Work Study award, but you would pay what the student would’ve earned if they were still working on campus.
  • If your student employee(s) have a set schedule, please continue to pay the student(s) based on this set schedule.
  • If your student employee(s) do not have a set schedule, you can identify your student(s) average weekly hours through a report in Workday: Student Time Blocks Average Number of Hours per Period.

What happens if my student employee(s) are running out of Federal Work Study (FWS) eligibility?

  • When a student's total gross earnings are within $50 of his/her maximum FWS eligibility, Student Employment Services must change each FWS job to a non-work-study distribution, charging 100% against the department accounts listed on the job record.
    • A separate notification will not be sent when this change is made.

What if a student has not worked any hours toward their FWS allotment? Are we still supposed to pay them?

  • No. If they haven’t been working, they don’t get ‘hired’ or paid.

Should I pay my student employee(s) over spring break?

  • Student employees should only be paid over spring break if they would have remained working with your department during that week.

If a student has enough funds, can they work through finals week?

  • Priority should be given to employing students through May 6th or until their Work-Study award is exhausted.
  • If a student has not used all of their FWS funds, they may work until May 23rd, the last day of final exams; assuming that the department/college continues to provide the necessary matching funds. 

Can a student request an increase to their FWS award?

  • At this time a student can only be paid up to the maximum amount of their current award.

Can a student continue to earn FWS funds if they choose to withdraw from the university due to COVID 19?

  • No. In order to be eligible to earn FWS funds, the employee must be a currently enrolled student.

How long will this be in effect?

  • You should continue to assign hours during 03/12/2020-05/06/2020.
  • Federal Work Study payments will end when the student employee has earned their maximum eligible earnings, or the end of the semester; whichever comes first.
  • It may be possible to continue paying students beyond May 6, but our first goal is to ensure that we have planned for every student through that date.
    • Note that graduating seniors are ineligible for student work beyond May 23, 2020. 
  • Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

Can we post jobs for summer at this time?

  • At this time we are asking supervisors not to post jobs for summer. We will provide guidance about when summer jobs can be posted as it becomes available.