Division of Business and Finance

Guidelines for Processing Payments to Brandeis Students

This document should be used to determine which method of student payment is appropriate for student employees, interns, fellows, and others. This will also serve as a guide as to the classification of certain activities as prizes, awards, or direct hourly employment.

Student work must be compensated in compliance with all Federal and State employment laws and regulations.

In most cases this means that any student working for Brandeis should be paid through Student Employment and Payroll and will need to be paid based on an hourly wage and actual hours worked.

Hourly Wages for Work Performed

When the payment to a student is for work performed, payment must be made through Student Employment and Payroll

  • All payments for work performed are processed by Student Employment and Payroll.
  • As a general rule, all students employed by Brandeis are expected to be paid hourly using the weekly pay schedule. This is always true when either of the following criteria is met:
    • The amount of time working can be tracked
    • The amount of time working can be verified
  • In cases where independent work (work that is done in an unsupervised manner or location) is being performed, it is critical that the student employee track their time spent doing the work and record it with accuracy (e.g. research conducted off-site), with remote oversight by the student’s supervisor.

Stipend Payments

There are a few generally accepted exceptions to hourly pay for student employment. They include:

  • The position is a creative endeavor or artistic in purpose/nature (e.g., performer/entertainer, writer, graphic artist)
  • The position’s primary duties are considered ‘on-call’, unpredictable, or ad-hoc (e.g. Undergraduate Advisor, Peer Advisor, Brandeis EMS)
When the payment to a student is for educationally-related activities, with no defined commitment for any hours, the payments are processed through stipends (generally through “Period Activity Pay” in Workday). The most common examples include:
  • Structured, merit- and academic-based research scholarships, grants, and fellowship programs considered educational learning opportunities rather than employment. Examples include programs such as a Senior Thesis Research
  • A student has been awarded Brandeis funds for career exploration purposes, where the activity is for the benefit of the student’s experience/education. Examples include off-term funding offered by Arts & Sciences for Academic Year Research and to support a student in pursuing off-campus career exploration experiences.

Stipends may not be used when the work is measurable, or would be considered hourly work by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Fellowship Taxation

Fellowship stipends are taxable income to the recipients. For US citizens, fellowship stipends are not subject to tax withholding by the University and are self-reported (the University is not required to report fellowship stipends on Form W-2, Form 1099 or other formal tax document).

For foreign nationals (also known as nonresident aliens for US tax purposes), federal and state tax withholdings may be required on fellowship income.  There may be exemptions from tax withholding requirements, depending on the tax treaties with the countries of residence or citizenship. In the absence of a tax treaty benefit, the federal tax withholding rate for F & J visas is 14%.  Fellowship stipends to foreign nationals will be reported on Form 1042-S for federal tax purposes. Additionally, scholarship/grant/fellowship stipends that are derived from or effectively connected with teaching, research, or other services carried on by a non-resident in Massachusetts are includable in Massachusetts gross income and subject to Massachusetts personal income tax.  Such amounts are reported on Form W-2 for state tax purposes (the federal equivalent is reported on Form 1042-S).


Accounts Payable

When the payment to a student is associated with an award or prize to honor an achievement, this is not associated with work performed and should be processed through accounts payable. This includes merit awards, or for academic achievement. Awards given to students for specific volunteer roles, such as work with Student Government, would be considered a prize or award for being selected to the role. These payments would be disbursed once per semester and once awarded are not forfeitable.

Definitions for terms commonly used when determining appropriate payments

Stipend: A stipend is a fixed sum of money paid periodically or in a lump sum to defray expenses associated with academic-related activities undertaken by the student, including career exploration.

Lump-sum: A lump sum is a single payment of money, as opposed to a series of payments made over time.

Honorarium: An honorarium is an ex gratia payment (i.e., a payment made without the giver recognizing themselves as having any liability or legal obligation) made to a non-Brandeis employee for their services in a volunteer capacity or for services for which fees are not traditionally required.

Fellowship: A fellowship is an opportunity to pursue study or research typically outside of the enrollment in an academic program. Funds received to support participation in fellowships are typically paid with a stipend. In some cases, academic credit is awarded for successful completion of the fellowship.

Scholarship: A scholarship is an amount of money given to defray costs typically associated with enrollment in an academic program. This may be awarded to either an undergraduate or a graduate student.

Internship: An internship is a structured opportunity of fixed duration that provides training and experience to benefit the educational efforts of the student. Internships may take place at the student’s educational institution, or at an outside organization. Internships may be full or part-time, and may be paid or unpaid positions.

Volunteer: A volunteer contributes time, effort and talent without any expectation of present or future salary, wages or benefits, and without any coercion or intimidation.

Students may provide service as volunteer to Brandeis because it is a nonprofit organization. Typically, student volunteers should be involved with scholarly activities with faculty, such as research, involved with co-curricular centers and organizations, and with extra-curricular activities. The volunteer’s principle contribution should blend the student's interests with the needs of the faculty member or organization with which the student is volunteering.

Work: Work is providing a service for which one earns compensation. There is an employee-employer relationship where the employer controls the time, place, scope of what’s done and how it’s done, and the activity is for the benefit of the employer.

Prizes and Awards: The College makes available a wide range of prizes and awards to its students in recognition of academic excellence or achievement. Historically, the terms “prize” and "award" have been used by departments for payments distributed to students during the academic year, most notably at Commencement. The recipient may receive a monetary and/or a tangible prize.

Student recognition by College departments for academic achievement is considered a prize by the IRS, e.g. best design, highest score, academic achievement, best thesis, etc. or winnings from a raffle or drawing.