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Payroll and Timekeeping Policies

Students are paid for hours worked and receive a bi-monthly paycheck. Wages are not applied to the student's tuition invoice. Students are paid at least the minimum wage ($13.35 per hour for positions based in Evanston or $15.40 per hour for positions based in Chicago). Most students earn between $13.35 and $16.00 per hour. The average hourly wage rate is $14.03/hour. 

Time Keeping System

Students are responsible for recording their hours in the timekeeping system by the stated deadlines below:
  • If your department uses a timekeeping clock, swipe in and out of each shift with your WildCARD. 
    • If edits are required, notify your supervisor prior to 5 p.m. CST on the second Friday of the pay period (unless otherwise notified).
  • All other student employees must record their hours in the WFS Timekeeping, Northwestern’s timekeeping system, by 5 p.m. CST on the second Friday of the pay period (unless otherwise notified). When finished, click Approve. To make edits, click Remove Approval.

Students who have trouble accessing Workforce Timekeeping should contact

Learn more about Workforce Timekeeping.

Tracking Hours and Wages

Access CAESAR > Financial Aid > Work-Study Earnings by Date to monitor your cumulative work-study earnings after each pay date. Our office will notify you when you are within $700 of your allotment limit. Once you earn your FWS allotment, you are no longer eligible to be paid federal work-study wages and you and your supervisor will be notified. Your employer will determine if you can continue working in their department and transition your position to a Northwestern temporary wage worker in their department paying your full wages.

  • To use the Award Tracking Sheet, begin by writing your FWS allotment on the total award line. (This amount can be found in CAESAR.) After your first paycheck, record the gross (pre-tax) amount from the check and enter it in the gross pay column for the appropriate pay date on the form. The remaining award amount can then be calculated by subtracting the gross pay from the total award. Each subsequent paycheck should be recorded in the same manner, subtracting the gross pay from the remaining award balance of the previous pay period to determine the current amount left to earn.

Scheduled Hours Calculator

This calculator will help you determine the maximum hours you may work each week based on your total federal work-study allotment and your hourly wage rate. The calculator is based on weeks of employment throughout the regular academic year and does not include winter or spring break for which you may work. The basic formula behind these figures is:

(Work-Study Allotment ÷ Weeks per Academic Year) ÷ Hourly Wage = Hours per Week

Work-Study Award Total Work Weeks Hourly Pay Rate Calculate Hours/Week
(Ex: 3600) (Ex: 30) (Ex: 13.00)  

If you work during winter or spring break, any wages earned will count toward your annual work-study allotment limit.   

Meals and Breaks Policy

Illinois law requires a 20-minute unpaid meal period if working 7.5 continuous hours or more. The meal period must be taken no later than 5 hours after starting work. Paid breaks lasting no less/longer than 15-minute are required when working four straight hours.

Students should enter their hours in Workforce and deduct 20 minutes from their time entry if they worked 7.5 hours or more. Students who swipe at a Timeclock station must swipe in and out for the unpaid meal period. 

Sick-Time Policy

Work-study students may accrue paid sick leave hours. To be eligible, student employees must have worked a minimum of 80 hours within the past 120 days in their position. Students earn one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked. Up to half of the unused hours may be carried over to the following year if you will be employed in the same position. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact

Overtime Policy

Student employees may not exceed 20 hours per week during the normal academic year when classes are in session and during finals weeks. During scheduled academic year breaks, student employees may work up to 37.5 hours among all Northwestern student employment positions. Hours worked in excess thereof are subject to state overtime pay regulations and your department will be billed 100% for overtime wages earned. 

Time Sheet Falsification

Falsification of a time sheet by a student is a serious offense. In addition to immediate termination from your position as noted in the Termination & Workplace Issues section of the website, consequences also include:

  • Immediate removal from the Federal Work-Study Program;
  • The amount of Federal Work-Study awarded will be cancelled and will not be replaced with any federal or institutional financial aid assistance;
  • This matter will be referred to Student Affairs for appropriate disciplinary action.

Prior to being allowed to return to the Federal Work-Study Program, a written petition, requesting permission to return, must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office. If approval is granted to return to the Federal Work-Study Program, your current employer is not required to re-hire you as a work-study employee.


Federal and Illinois State taxes are automatically deducted from your paychecks however, social security and Medicare taxes (FICA) are exempt for students who are pursuing a course of study. 


W-2 Wage Statements are issued each calendar year by the Northwestern Payroll Office. The document outlines all income earned from Northwestern and all taxes withheld that year. Save these documents for your records! You will need this document for filing your federal or state taxes. You may need to provide your earnings amounts on the FAFSA in future years. 

W-2 Reprint request