Skip to main content

WVU-CO-25 Student FICA Exemption Policy

West Virginia University Policy
Division of Administration and Finance




To provide a student FICA policy that complies with the requirements set forth by the Internal Revenue Service.


FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) tax encompasses Social Security and Medicare taxes. These taxes are withheld from an individual’s pay and matched by the University.


This policy applies to all University student employees, including those on the regional campuses.


Student employees of the university may be exempt from FICA tax withholding. An individual who is at least half-time undergraduate, graduate, or professional student, and who is not a career employee, may qualify for the student FICA exemption.

The student FICA exemption does not apply to services performed by an individual who is not enrolled in classes during school breaks of more than five weeks (summer breaks). However, the student FICA exemption does apply to employment which continues during normal school breaks of 5 weeks or less (Spring break, Christmas, Thanksgiving, between sessions), as long as the student was enrolled half-time on the last day of classes (or examinations) preceding the break, and is eligible to enroll in classes for the first academic period following the break.

The amount of remuneration for services performed by the employee, the type of services performed by the employee, the place where the services are performed, and the number of hours worked are immaterial.

Each pay cycle, the institution will confirm that employees exempt from FICA withholding meet both tests of enrollment and non-career employment as defined above.

Enrollment Requirements:

Fall and Spring Terms

  1. Undergraduate students enrolled for at least 6 credit hours per semester.
  2. Graduate (Master, Professional, and Doctoral) students enrolled at least 5 credit hours per semester.

Summer Terms

  1. Undergraduate students enrolled for at least 3 credit hours per session.
  2. Graduate (Master, Professional, and Doctoral) students enrolled for at least 2 credit hours per session.

A “non-career employee” is defined as an individual working in a position with the following characteristics:

  1. Was hired into a position defined by Human Resources as a student position or by Academic Affairs as an undergraduate or graduate student teaching, research, or administrative assistant.
  2. Is not eligible to participate in the University’s retirement plans.
  3. Is not eligible for the University’s fringe benefit plan (medical, dental, etc.).
  4. Is not eligible for federal or state unemployment benefits.

An individual employed in multiple positions is deemed a non-career employee only if all positions qualify under the above definition.


Procedure development rests with the Controller’s Office – Tax and Payroll Accounting.


The responsibility for implementation rests with the Controller’s Office – Tax and Payroll Accounting. The Controller’s Office, at 293-4002 or P.O. Box 6001, is available to answer questions or provide additional information regarding this policy.


The responsibility for interpretation of this policy rests with the Controller, West Virginia University.

Effective Date: September 10, 1998
Approved By: Scott C. Kelley, Vice President