UMass Boston

Required Paperwork for Students

Before a student may be placed on payroll for a position through the university student employment programs, certain paperwork must be completed. Failure to complete this paperwork will result in a delay in both your start date and your eligibility to be paid. SES encourages all students to complete their paperwork as soon as they have accepted a position through the Institutional (CC) or FWS Programs.

It is critical that you do not begin working until all your paperwork has been completed. Violation of this rule may result in loss of wages, delayed payment of your earned wages, and possible termination from the student employment program.

I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification)

Federal regulations require that every employer must verify an employee's eligibility to work in the United States of America through the Employment Eligibility Verification form, commonly referred to as the I 9. Staff must verify both the student's identity and the student's eligibility to work. In order to do this, certain documents must be provided, in person, to a SES staff member. Original documents must be presented to the staff member, who will review and return them. Photocopies are not allowed.

The most common documents used to verify the student's identity are a driver's license or a UMass student ID, while the most common documents to verify a student's eligibility to work are a Social Security card or a U.S. birth certificate. You are required to bring in documentation of both your identity and eligibility to work, thus two documents are required. If you have a valid U.S. passport or Permanent Resident Card, it may be used to verify both your identity and your eligibility to work. If the passport is not a United States Passport, it must have an I-551 stamp or be accompanied by the I-94 and I-20 forms, which verify the expiration of your eligibility.

IMPORTANT: It is a violation of federal law for an employee to begin working more than three days before the completion of the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form.  Any hours spent by a student at the workplace before an I-9 is completed will be considered volunteer time and will not be paid. Employment eligibility may be revoked for violation of this policy.

W-4/M-4 (Tax Withholding Allowances)

All student earnings are taxable. Thus, all student employees must complete the proper documentation to have taxes withheld from their paycheck. The federal form is referred to as the Federal Form W-4: Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. The state form is referred to as Form M-4: Massachusetts Employee's Withholding Exemption Certificate. Both are completed in SES.

If a student is exempt from paying taxes, the form may be completed so that no tax is withheld. In order to qualify for exempt status on the federal form, you must certify that last year you had a right to a refund of ALL federal income tax withheld because you had NO tax liability, AND that this year you expect a refund of ALL federal income tax withheld because you expect to have NO tax liability. (At the state level, exemption is based on being a full-time student whose estimated earnings will not exceed $8,000.)

If you do not qualify for Exempt status, you must define the number of allowances upon which your withholdings will be based. The form asks specific questions and provides worksheets to assist you in completing this information. (Due to tax treaties, all International students must pick up the appropriate packet of information at SES and then meet with a representative from Student Payroll to complete the tax withholding documents.)

The forms are valid until the point that any information on it ceases to be correct. Thus, because the questions on the W-4 surrounding Exempt status are year specific, you will need to complete a new W-4 every year if you claim exempt.

SES will use a standard of zero allowances for any student who fails to complete a W-4 or M-4.

Student Personnel Action Form (PA)

The Student Personnel Action Form, commonly referred to as the PA, is the document that actually places you on to the UMass Boston payroll. It defines the job you will hold, the hourly rate you will be paid, the length of time you will hold the position, and the maximum amount you may earn before your employment is terminated. The PA is completed by the employer.

A PA must be completed for every job that you hold through the Institutional (CC) and/or FWS Programs. PA's are valid for no more than one fiscal year. Thus, if you are continuing in a position, new paperwork will need to be completed each June.

As your wages will be charged directly to a department account, your PA must be signed by the appropriate authorized departmental personnel (supervisor/head/account's administrator) before it can be processed.

Social Security/OBRA

The federal government allows all students who are enrolled at least half-time, are working for the institution where they study, and are not "career" employees (e.g. are not benefited employees) to be exempt from paying Medicare and Social Security taxes. Thus, any student who falls below half-time enrollment will have these taxes deducted from their earnings. As the University of Massachusetts does not participate in the Social Security Program, an alternate retirement plan (OBRA) will be deducted from the student's earnings in place of Social Security.

During the summer, all students are considered to be enrolled less than half-time, unless they provide specific documentation to Student Payroll to demonstrate otherwise. (The required documentation is available in both SES and Student Payroll, as are more detailed explanations about the program.) Student Payroll will mail information regarding the alternate retirement plan to all students who are required to participate.