Student Compensation Guidance

Student Employment as an Engagement Experience

Many on-campus student employment positions offer valuable experiential learning opportunities. These may also qualify as 100% Engagement experiences, such as by incorporating a special applied learning project and reflection into a student's paid on-campus employment duties. 

Faculty or staff wishing to propose an engaged learning experience (non-credit or for-credit) that is incorporated into a students' on-campus positions should familiarize themselves with the UA Student Employee Manual. Supervisors should be cognizant that any additional paid hours associated with the engagement activity must still comply with the University of Arizona’s hourly limits for enrolled students of 25 hours per week and that students must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credit hours while working in a student position. 

You may also want to keep in mind and make sure to communicate with students clearly about the following points prior to incorporating 100% Engagement into a student's employment:

  • What will happen if the student’s employment ends for any reason, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, prior to the completion of the requriements to earn an Engaged Learning Experience notation on the transcript?
  • Which hours will be compensated vs. which hours are for the sole benefit of the student and will not be compensated? For example, if a student is working on a special project related to their position at your direction that in turn benefits your department, they would rightfully be compensated for the time they spent working on the project. However, the hours a student spends completing their reflection would not need to be paid. 

Six Criteria for Legal Unpaid Internships

Internships have a natural fit within the 100% Engagement Initiative, however, they also require special legal considerations regarding fair compensation and whether or not an internship can legally be unpaid. As you collaborate with community partners to provide internships for students, it is important to understand how expectations might change based on the nature of the companies you work with. Even though the University of Arizona may not be subject to the same regulations as private or for-profit companies, these guidelines serve as best practices for educational and non-profit organizations as well.

In 2010, after complaints of widespread abuse, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor reevaluated and released new guidelines for unpaid internships. In order for an internship to legally be unpaid, it must meet the six criteria below. Please keep in mind that even internships offered for college credit may still be subject to these guidelines and require that students be paid at least minimum wage.

  • The internship is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  • The intern does not displace regular employees but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship, and
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship