Important Information: Please review Cornell's Coronavirus FAQ for information specific to the impact of COVID-19 across the University. The FAQ will be updated as information changes or becomes available.

Please be mindful of phishing attempts regarding CARES Act Funding and Student Employment opportunities. To verify phishing attempts, please reference the Cornell IT Security Phish Bowl. Cornell employers will not send electronic payroll checks by email and will not ask students to make gift card purchases on their behalf.

Q&A: Employing Students during COVID Preparedness (Academic Year 2020-2021)

Below is a Q&A for departments continuing to employ students during COVID-19. This page is an update for the 2020-2021 academic year; previous guidance was provided in the Spring. If you have additional questions that are not answered here, please send an email to

In this Q&A: 


Viewing Information:

Paying Students:

Can I hire student employees?

  • You must confirm your ability to hire student employees during the 2020-2021 academic year with your respective HR rep and unit leadership.  Federal Work Study employment must not displace nor replace regular full-time employees.

Can students work remotely?

  • For the 2020-2021 academic year, students can work either remotely, or in person, if so approved by their employer.
    • Remote workers must continue to demonstrate professionalism and comply with University policies.
  • 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.
  • Working remotely outside the United States is generally not permitted. The university has developed a narrow framework of options for engaging qualified international student workers who will remain in their home countries for the fall semester or who are legally stranded in their home countries for the spring semester. Please note that some options will require prior approval by the Department Chair or Dean. Employers can find eligibility criteria and employment options in the Undergraduate Student Academic Support and Professional Degree Student Appointments (NetID required) guidelines. Please reach out to your HR Contact if you have questions or need additional information.

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? 

Please be sure your student employees have their correct address listed in Workday so the student employment position meets all federal/state/local tax and labor laws associated with where the student is physically located while working.  The work address should be listed as the state of New York. If you have any questions on tax implications, please contact the Cornell Tax Office.

Am I required to provide my student employees with face coverings while working on campus?

  • Yes. In accordance with New York state emergency regulations, Cornell must provide face coverings to employees working on-site, in Cornell-owned buildings or facilities.

How can I acquire face coverings, gloves, disinfecting supplies, and hand sanitizer for my team?

How can I identify hourly student employees in my org?

  • Workday has a report titled “Student Hourly Appointments”
    • Once you have logged into Workday, select the Student Employment worklet – role access is required.
    • Underneath the Student Employment Reports and Actions section, select Student Hourly Appointments.
    • Filter by “Appointment as of” and “Organization”

How can I identify which of my student employees are 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.
  • Please note: Federal Work Study eligibility will not appear unless the student has actively accepted their FWS award via their Student Center.  Instructions on how to accept/decline FWS awards can be found on the Financial Aid website.

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.
    • Balances are updated by the Wednesday following the end of the pay period.
  • The Workday Student Hourly Appointments report includes remaining FWS balances for all FWS students within your organization.

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).

How much should students be paid?

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.

Can a student request an increase to their FWS award?

  • Students can request an increase to their Federal Work Study award by sending an email to the Financial Aid Office.
  • The request should include:
    • The requested increase amount;
    • Current rate of pay; and
    • Expected number of hours the student will continue to work.

If my student employee is unable to work due to COVID, do I need to pay them for unworked time?

  • Students are entitled to paid leave if they are scheduled to work and not able to work remotely during the dates of quarantine or isolation.  Cornell Health will provide information to student employees that will outline next steps for ensuring paid leave, if eligible, that should be shared with the respective HR Representative for their employing college/unit.  Students who were previously unable to work scheduled hours due to quarantine or isolation should contact their HR Representative directly for further assistance.

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, in a degree-seeking program.