Note: We encourage contributors to stay actively engaged in the organizations they are contributing content to. Being a contributor is a pathway to leadership positions, so take full advantage of the opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, education, and community. 

Contributors can work as freelance reporters, opinion writers, photographers, videographers, audio producers, cartoonists, designers, copyeditors, and other designated categories. They may work for the Vanguard or The Pacific Sentinel. The work is paid per published item.

Whether you are a new or returning contributor, please note that you will only be paid for work that is published AFTER you have officially been set up as a contributor for the CURRENT ACADEMIC YEAR. Returning contributors, your previous contract expires on June 30 of each year and does not apply to the following year, meaning that you will have to submit new paperwork to get paid for anything in the new fiscal year (starting July 1 of each year). If you contribute work to a publication prior to being set up, that work will be considered voluntary and unpaid.

  • Pay Rates (contributor rates listed after ELSA rates).

We are no longer taking applications for the 2019-20 academic year. The application for 2020-21 will be available here in early-mid June. At that time, to apply, you can fill out the new Independent Contractor Application, Student Media Contributor Contract, and this combination PDF iconW-9/Direct Deposit form (making sure to follow the steps for each form described below on this page). International students will also have to fill out a W-8BEN.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: As of 2018, there has been a change in the interpretation and enforcement of federal law regarding work by international students in the U.S. As such, international students may not work more than 20 hours in any week during fall, winter, and spring term. There is an exception of up to 40 hours of work in a week for one vacation term (summer) as well as the days in between terms, which is the first day after final exams to the last day before classes the next term. For more on this matter, here's a podcast from PSU Human Resources featuring Christina Luther, the Director of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. Because contributors are paid per invoiced item rather than the number of hours worked, it is the responsibility of each international student working as a contributor to keep track of hours worked to make sure the total stays under 20 hours every week. If you have another job on campus, you must factor that in as well. The total for all jobs combined cannot exceed 20 hours. A safe practice is to stop around 19 hours. Please work with your editors to ensure that you stay within these federal requirements. Do not accept any assignments that would put you over the limit.

Once you've completed the necessary forms, return them to the Coordinator of Student Media in SMSU S28. If the Coordinator of Student Media is not present, you may slide the completed application packet under the office door. If you would like help or further information in applying to be a contributor for Student Media, you may request an orientation session by emailing

COVID-19 PROCESS ADJUSTMENT: Because we cannot accept paperwork in person during this time, please create digital scans/files of the contract paperwork you fill out and share them in a Google Drive folder with our accountant, Sheri Pitcher, at This is more secure than sending the documents over email.

After you have submitted all the necessary documents to become a contributor, you can check your status by looking at the list of current contributors below. Processing times vary, but If you don't see your name on this list within a week of submiting your application, you can contact the Coordinator of Student Media to follow up reguarding your status.

Application Form

Fill in the requested information, check appropriate boxes, sign, and date.

Contractor Agreement

1. On page 1, leave the PSU Contract # blank. This number, which you'll need for creating an invoice to get paid, will be emailed to you after your contract has been processed. You'll receive a PDF of the contract agreement you signed, and it will have the PSU Contract # added.

2. In the first paragraph of page 1, print your name.

3. On page 2, you'll only fill out the "Contractor" section and leave the section below blank. Where it says, "By," we need your signature. Where it says, "Name," we need your printed name. You'll need to fill in the date, but you can leave the title blank.

4. On page 5, sign the line that says "Contractor" and leave the other line blank. This page lists some of the parameters of being a contractor, as opposed to an employee.

5. Pages 6 (sample invoice) and 7-8 (pay rates for items) are for you to keep as a referernce for creating invoices.

W-9/Direct Deposit Form

Returning contributors who already have this document on file do not need to submit it again. However, if any information such as their address or bank account has changed, they will need to re-submit an updated W-9/Direct Deposit form.

1. The top half is a W-9 form for establishing your eligibility to work in the U.S. Fill in the requested informtion. You don't need to put anything in the line marked "Business Name" since you're working as an individual. You don't need to put your tax ID number. Just your social security number will be fine. Then, in the boxes, most students would place a check mark for "U.S. Citizen" and "Individual." Sign and date the form.

As stated above, If you're an international student, you'll also have to fill out a W-8BEN form in addition to the W-9 and follow the specified steps below.

2. The bottom half of the W-9 form is a direct deposit form. Fill in your bank account information. The "Depositor Account Title" line is just your name. You'll then see a couple of boxes. If all your money from this work is staying in the U.S., check the top box. Under this scenario, you don't need to fill in the "Additional Information" section. However, you do need to put your signature and date at the bottom. Finally, the form indicates that you should attach a voided check. The office that processes these forms will still accept the form without a voided check as long as the account infomration on the form is either typed or written very legibly to avoid potential confusion and deposit of funds into the wrong account.

After you've submitted all these documents, your contract will be processed by PSU. Once you receive a PDF of your contract in an email with your contract number, you're all set to start billing for your work.

Here's an PDF iconInvoice Template.pdf for you to fill out. When your invoice is complete, you can email it as an attachment to the organization you're billing. For the Vanguard, you should email it to the managing editor. For Rearguard and Portland Spectrum, you'll email it to the Editor in Chief. You should submit these invoices within a week of having your work published. PSU has up to 30 days to pay you from the date you submit your invoice, though typically, students have received payment within a couple of weeks.