Student Employment Requirements

For this handbook, the term “student employee” refers to students who are working for Portland State University (PSU) in a position that requires student status and are paid wages through the University. Student employees may perform work on or off-campus. PSU is the single employer of record for student employees even if the student provides services to more than one department. 

Academic Credit Requirements | Term Off | Academic Eligibility Check | Employment-At-Will


Academic Credit Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirements

To maintain "student employee" status, individuals are required to maintain a minimum number of credit hours per term. This requirement is monitored by the student's supervisor or designated representative.

  • Undergraduate students: 6 credit minimum
  • Graduate students: 5 credit minimum

Falling below minimum credit requirements may impact a student's tax deductions and exemptions. Contact HR for more details. 

Exceptions to Minimum Credit Requirements

The following circumstances may allow a student retain their position as a "student employee" while not satisfying the minimum credit requirement.

  • Final term before graduation where the credit hours needed to graduate are less than the number required to work on campus. 
  • A graduate student is working on their thesis, or other cumulative project, and the credits they need to graduate are less than the number required to work on campus. This does not have to be the final term before graduation. 
  • International students must submit the appropriate reduced course load request to the Office of International Affairs. 
  • A student has declared a "Grace Term" or "Term Off". See restrictions below.

Term Off

Student employees may work while not enrolled for a maximum of ONE term per calendar year. This is commonly referred to as a “grace term” or “term off.” 

  • May not be the student employee's first term of employment.
  • May not be back-to-back terms. 
  • Student employees must notify and receive approval from the following in advance of their planned "term off"
    • Supervisor(s)
    • Director of Financial Aid or designee, IF the student employee's position is paid for by Federal Work Study Program, AND is declaring a term other than summer. 
    • International Students: Submit appropriate reduced course load request to the Office of International Affairs. 

Falling below minimum credit requirements may impact a student's tax deductions and exemptions. If a supervisor wants to continue employing an individual who does not meet the credit requirements, the position MUST be changed to a temporary appointment. Contact your HR Partner for more details. 

Academic Probation or Academic Warning: Students on Academic Probation or Academic Warning may still work on campus so long as they meet the credit requirements.

Academic Withdrawal: If a student employee withdraws from the University, the student’s employment as a “student employee” must end by the close of the pay period during which the student withdrew. Supervisors should make clear to student employees that it is the student’s responsibility to communicate changes in enrollment status to their supervisors. If the student drops all classes and continues working, the position must be changed to a temporary appointment. For more information on these options, contact Human Resources.

Graduation: Graduating student employees may continue working in a student appointment through the end of the pay period in which graduation falls, but not beyond. Graduating students pre-registered or admitted for classes at PSU (e.g., graduate school) may remain a student employee during the intervening term. Rules for international students may be different and the Office of International Affairs should be contacted with any questions.

Post Baccalaureate and Non-Degree-Seeking Students: There are many students who continue at the University after graduation in post-baccalaureate or non-degree-seeking status. These students must continue to meet the academic credit requirements to be eligible to hold student employment positions.

Academic Eligibility Check

The following instructions are provided in order to determine if your selected applicant for employment meets the minimum student enrollment requirements:

  1. Go to the screen SFAREGF in BANNER. If you do not have access to the SFAREGF screen, you may request it through the OAM Access Requests (OAR) form. See instructions at:
  2. Input the four digit year followed by 01 for Winter term, 02 for Spring term, 03 for Summer term, or 04 for Fall term. For example: 202101 would be Winter term 2021.
  3. Enter the student’s ID, then press "Alt + Page Down" on your keyboard to see registration.
  4. Look at “total credit hours” to verify they meet the above requirements.

Federal Work Study positions: Check for the Certificate of Eligibility verifying financial aid award.

  • Be aware that this document has an expiration date, usually October 31st of each academic year, and that the award may no longer be available after this date.
  • Federal regulations require that position descriptions be prepared and filed annually with Financial Aid for each job that Federal Work Study position students fill.


Student employees at PSU are “at will” employees. This means that either the student employee or the University may terminate employment without notice, at any time, and for any reason not prohibited by law.

  • Supervisors should consult Human Resources regarding un-willful terminations.
  • A supervisor of a student employee may not change the “at-will” nature of the employment relationship.

Please note: Supervisors may not terminate or otherwise adversely affect the employment of its employees, including student employees, on the basis of a protected classification (e.g., because of the employee’s race, color, national origin, sex, religion, sexual orientation, among others) or for reporting the employer’s illegal conduct.

Supervisors are required to participate in the Learning Module “Creating a Culture of Respect: Preventing Prohibited Discrimination and Harassment”. Supervisors should be mindful about the acceptable practices for ending the employment relationship with student employees in a professional manner. See section “What Happens if it Doesn’t Work Out” or contact Human Resources for further information.