Educational Leadership Service Award (ELSA)

SALP One ELSA At a Time Policy

It is the policy of Student Activities and Leadership Programs, approved by the SALP Advisory Board Policy Committee on March 12, 2018, that a student may hold multiple leadership roles, but may only receive one ELSA managed by Student Activities and Leadership Programs.  Students can choose which ELSA to accept from those of which they are eligible.  A program may still require attendance and development requirements to maintain eligibility for the position regardless of ELSA acceptance.



Dean of Student Life ELSA Policy

Last updated February 26, 2018.  This policy is housed in the Dean of Student Life Office.

Application of Policy

The policy applies to all student leadership positions with and departments that use Educational Leadership Service Awards.  This policy follows all University policies regarding student compensation. 

History and Purpose

Student leadership service awards were created with the intention of providing financial support for PSU students holding paraprofessional positions or responsibilities in affiliation with the university campus. The awards were developed to enhance access to student leadership positions, to provide an additional mechanism for recognizing the valuable contributions student leaders make to co-curricular life, and to create a mechanism for evenly compensating students who are working to provide a student-initiated University service. The original Educational Stipend Policy that governed this program was officially drafted in July 1, 2006. A revision of the policy was completed and went into effect January 1, 2009.

In 2010, Portland State University and the Office of the Dean of Student Life, in cooperation with Vice President for Student Affairs Jackie Balzer and representatives from General Counsel and Human Resources Offices, conducted a thorough examination of the Dean of Students’ Educational Stipend Program. A broad cross section of departments and units involved in the administration and oversight of this program were brought together in the spring of 2010 in order to address concerns that had arisen regarding the administration of the program. Beginning fall 2010, departments who allocated Educational Stipend Awards to student leaders were assisted in migrating to the Educational Leadership Service Award (ELSA) Program which is governed by this policy.

There were substantial revisions made in the summer of 2013 and again in summer/fall of 2015. 


ELSA Steering Committee
Purpose and Responsibilites: 

The purpose of the Educational Leadership Service Awards Steering Committee will be to serve in an advisory capacity to the Dean of Student Life in overseeing processes and procedures associated with the Educational Leadership Service Awards.  All members of the committee shall be current Portland State students as listed below.  Others are welcome to attend and inform the process as invited by the convener.

Membership of ELSA Steering Committee

Convener: Dean of Student Life (or designee)

  • ASPSU Student Body President (or designee)
  • Student Media representative (designated by Coordinator of Student Media)
  • International Student and Scholar Services representative (designated by program)
  • DMSS representative (designated by program)
  • OBC representative (Chair or designee)
  • RCC representative (designated by program)
  • Leadership Fellows representative (nominated by Leadership Fellows facilitators)

Ex-officio advisory members:

  • Director, Student Organization Advising (SALP)
  • Coordinator, Student Media (SALP)
  • Coordinator, Rec Clubs (Campus Recreation)
  • Chair, Student Fee Committee (or designee)
Student Positions

Types of student positions receiving compensation are defined below. 

    1. Educational Leadership Service Award (ELSA)
      Positions that are eligible to receive an ELSA must meet all of the Dean of Student Life ELSA policies and be approved by the ELSA committee. Positions that warrant an ELSA are positions of leadership that meet the following criteria:
      • They have the opportunity to learn experientially.
      • They are not hired or supervised by a professional staff person.
      • They have a high level of responsibility to and for the group.
      • The commitment to the group may have varying degrees of oversight of other students.
      • The position has been approved by the Dean of Student Life to be awarded an ELSA.
    2. Hourly Wage
      Positions that are paid an hourly wage must meet all of the Human Resource policies for student employees.  Positions that warrant an hourly wage meet the following criteria:
      • They are hired and supervised by a professional Portland State staff or faculty member.
      • Work can be completed in a discrete amount of time.
      • They have no responsibility for supervision of other employees.
      • The position involves repeated execution of similar tasks.
      • The position requires the student’s physical presence for an established amount of time.
    3. Independent contractor
      Only student media may hire freelance writers or photographers as independent contractors subject to all Finance and Accounting Services personal service policies.  Positions that warrant  independent contractor pay meet the following criteria:
      • Students are compensated based on output according to the Student Media rate sheet.
      • Payment is for the product published based on a pre-determined rate and standards sheet.
      • Payment is not based on time.
      • Students are not part of the leadership team and do not direct the work of others.
      • Students working as independent contractors must meet the same academic criteria as students holding ELSA-eligible positions.  During summer students do not have to be enrolled for credit, but they must plan on taking credits the following fall term.

The criteria below are the minimum expectations a department must meet in order to offer ELSA-eligible positions to student leaders.  Departments can have higher expectations for their students.  All expectations should be outlined in terms and conditions that students agree to when accepting their award through Financial Aid.

Academic Criteria
  1. Effort must be made to make sure that the leadership experience does not hamper academics.
  2. Students receiving an ELSA or working as hourly employees must meet the following criteria:
    1. Be an undergraduate with at least a 2.5 Portland State GPA and enroll and complete at least 6 credits a term (except summer), or
    2. Be a graduate student with at least a 3.0 Portland State GPA and enroll and complete at least 5 credits a term (except summer).
    3. Post-candidacy doctoral students who are considered full time by the institution.
Experiential Learning
  1. The ELSA is based on the assumption that students will be learning from the experiences gained.  There should be a time commitment expected and tracked by the department administering the award. The award is meant to provide opportunity for students to learn experientially. Therefore, students must be engaged and participating in their student leadership experience.  Students must work with the advisor, faculty member or other appropriate PSU personnel in order to determine how time dedicated to the service activity will be documented. The nature of the experiences award recipients are expected to participate in will be considered as part of determining the “Commitment” level of the ELSA (*see Rubric in Attachment
Leadership Development and Learning
  1. Staff or faculty leads in departments must provide leadership development and learning opportunities over and beyond the experience which the student is required to participate. Departments must create Measurable Learning Outcomes which are matched with opportunities to learn and reflect. Student leads are ineligible to receive the ELSA if they have not met the learning outcomes as set forth by the department. These opportunities for learning and reflection might look different in each department, some examples include:
    1. Introduction, mid-term, and end of term check ins;
    2. Weekly written reflection, assigned reading, assigned activities or group discussions, presentations and lectures;
    3. Defined learning outcomes with specific measures or hallmarks of how the attainment of these learning outcomes will be defined or achieved;
    4. Summary of goals for term or year
    5. Reflective E-portfolio

Because student leaders are expected to meet academic criteria in addition to participating in the expectations outlined above, staff and faculty leads within the department are responsible for creating a policy around student leaders who wish to hold multiple ELSA-eligible positions, both within the department and across campus.

Expectations of the Department

There must be a staff person responsible for administering the awards and providing meaningful opportunities for learning and reflection.

To be approved by the Dean of Students to administer awards, the department must:

  • Articulate how the position is leadership and what the student will be doing.  Explain the level of responsibility, scope, and commitment inherent in the leadership role (*see Rubric in Attachment I).
  • Determine the academic standards to receive an award (can be higher than those set forth in this policy).
  • Demonstrate how they will provide meaningful opportunities for learning and reflection and how they will assure that students attend/participate.
  • Determine what budget the awards will be dispersed from.

Departments must:

  • Check grades each term and hold students to the academic standards.
  • Provide meaningful leadership development and learning opportunities.
  • Track that students are participating in the leadership experience.

Departments may create additional restrictions as are programmatically appropriate and necessary.

Determining the Appropriate ELSA Level

The Dean of Student Life determines if a department is authorized to grant ELSAs

Award amount must be approved by the committee upon creation and any changes to awards must be approved by the committee

ELSA-eligible positions are not considered employment, are not subject to raises, BOLI, etc.

Awards are based on the rubric approved by the ELSA committee (*see Rubric in Attachment I) and should be seen as the appropriate amount a department can award for a particular leadership opportunity

Programs with leaders at a 3-point ELSA can pay as little as $100 a term with prior permission from the Dean of Student Life or designee. 


Each fiscal year, the ELSA committee will evaluate new and recurring ELSA positions.

The ELSA committee shall issue to the coordinator/director of each continuing program a time table of requirements and deadlines for each of the following (Please see Appendix 2 for applicable deadlines):

  • Application Deadline
  • Initial Deliberations
  • Final hearings, deliberations, and placements
  • Mid-Year Evaluations
  • Review of policies and procedures

The ELSA Committee will review requests based on the submission by programs of completed requests and justifications referencing the ELSA rubric. Complete requests will include the following information:

  • In depth descriptions for each type of ELSA position, including the expected responsibilities, projected for the programs following year.
  • The anticipated number of each type of position requested by the program.
  • The program’s assessment of the appropriate placement of each type of requested position according to the ELSA rubric, including a justification for each of the three criteria.
  • Any changes over the previous fiscal year in regards to each specific ELSA position such as position description, increase or decrease in number of ELSA positions, etc.
  • Accountability measures designed by programs to ensure ELSA recipients fulfill their roles and responsibilities.

Requests for review of decisions such as position placement in rubric, departmental denial of use of ELSA, or other policy decisions will be heard by the ELSA Committee, in consultation with the Dean of Student Life or designee.

Request for Waiver of Academic Eligibility requirements will be heard by the Dean of Student Life or designee.

Appendix I: ELSA Rubric and Award Ranges

Rubric that shows the point system.  If you can't see or read this image, please contact to request the text version.



















9 points= $2700, 8 points= $2300, 7 points= $1900, 6 points= $1500, 5 points= $1100, 4 points= $700, 3 points= $400

Summer Term ELSAs:  Summer is considered the week after finals until the week before school starts. In order for a position to qualify for a summer ELSA, they must be fully functioning in regards to Impact, Commitment, and Responsibility for ten weeks during summer.  Some training or meetings may be required over the summer without a position qualifying for a summer ELSA. 

Appendix II: Calendar
  • Application Deadline: Deadline for programs to submit requests to ELSA committee will be set for August.
  • Initial Deliberations: ELSA committee will publish initial decisions three weeks after applications are due.
  • Appeal Deadline: Deadline for programs to submit appeal to ELSA committee is one week after initial decisions are sent out.
  • Final hearings, deliberations, and placements: ELSA committee will finalize appeals October.
  • Mid-Year Evaluations: ELSA committee will conduct mid-year evaluations to track outcomes during Spring Term.
  • Review of policies and procedures: ELSA committee will review policies and procedures during Spring Term.