Center for Career and Professional Development

Educational Stipend Policies and Procedures

The following details information regarding Non Work-Study Educational Stipend policies. For questions, please contact Carrie Hachadurian, Student Employment Specialist in Career Services, 205 Killian Annex, cphachadurian@email.wcu.edu or 828.227.3888. 

DEFINITION

Educational Stipend recipients are undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at Western Carolina University (see Eligibility for more information) and who meet any of the following criteria:

  • Students who provide a more stable infrastructure for a core group of student extracurricular programs and organizations;
  • Students who hold leadership positions
  • Students who provide an additional mechanism for recognizing the valuable contributions student leaders make to co-curricular life
  • Students who are participating in student-focused experiences that provide a significant benefit to the student such as student-led and initiated research.

PURPOSE

The purpose of an Educational Stipend is to support and enhance the overall student educational experience. It is not the purpose of an Educational Stipend to fully compensate students for all their contributions, and stipends are not considered wages. Students receiving stipends are not considered employees of the University for any purpose, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, minimum wage law, or any other law or policy. The relationship between the University and students receiving a stipend is that of school and student and not of employer and employee.

ELIGIBILITY

An Educational Stipend recipient must be enrolled for classes for a current or upcoming term according to the following table. Students will immediately become ineligible to retain their stipend if they drop below the required number of credit hours. In addition, students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to retain their stipend. Supervising departments may choose to increase the required GPA as necessary. Any exception to the eligibility criteria must be approved by the Associate Provost.

Academic Term Undergraduate Minimum Registered Credit Hours Graduate Minimum Registered Credit Hours
Fall 6 5
Spring 6 5
Summer 3, or 0 if enrolled in fall term at above hours 3, or 0 if enrolled in fall term at above hours

ACCEPTANCE PROCESS

Educational Stipend recipients who have not completed a Federal W-4, NC-4, Direct Deposit and I-9 forms must do so in the Center for Career and Professional Development. An Educational Stipend acceptance form must be completed for every Educational Stipend recipient for each school year or summer session. 

Departments may not allow a student to begin their project until the supervisor has received the approved acceptance form, which indicates that the student has completed all necessary paperwork and meets eligibility. Please note it is unlawful and in violation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986/1990 to allow a student to begin work without having completed the Federal I-9 form and can result in a fine of up to $1500 per incident if federally audited. This includes any student receiving monetary compensation for any job or project, including students receiving an Educational Stipend.

Departments who are frequently in violation of this procedure will be notified and will run the risk of losing the ability to sponsor Educational Stipend students. 

SUMMER EDUCATIONAL STIPENDS

If a student is enrolled for the upcoming fall semester at the above minimum number of hours, he/she can receive stipends throughout the summer even if he/she is not enrolled for any summer classes. If a student receives an Educational Stipend during the summer but is not enrolled in summer classes, he/she would then be subject to FICA taxes. Students enrolled for a minimum of 3 hours of summer session but not enrolled in fall classes can receive a stipend through the time they are enrolled for the summer period. For example, if a student is enrolled for a 3-hour class that begins June 1 and ends July 1, then a stipend is permitted up through July 1. After July 1, the student would no longer be eligible to receive a stipend unless he/she again becomes an enrolled student.

A student may not receive stipends upon graduation from Western Carolina University. The student's last day of contract may not be after his/her date of commencement. A student who is not registered for summer session but is pre-registered for classes in the fall is eligible to complete up to 40 hours a week during the summer term. **Please note, if a student drops below the minimum number of required registered hours or graduates before termination forms have been filed, he/she will be subject to FICA tax for the hours completed after the student became ineligible to work.

COMPENSATION

An Educational Stipend recipient will be compensated at the end of each month in accordance to his/her Educational Stipend Acceptance Form. If a supervisor wishes to change stipend status or stipend amount, he/she must complete the Educational Stipend Change Form and submit it to the Center for Career and Professional Development, 205 Killian Annex, for review and approval. Compensation for Educational Stipends is established via the Educational Stipend Contract and Acceptance Form when they have been signed and processed through the Center for Career and Professional Development for the dates listed on the acceptance and contract forms, or until the recipient has been terminated from their contract. (See Termination of Stipend for more information).

TERMINATION OF STIPEND

An Educational Stipend recipient who is no longer actively participating in his/her approved stipend program should be separated from the stipend under Termination located on the original stipend contract. When a stipend recipient separates from the stipend program, the supervisor is responsible for submitting this paperwork. Paperwork must be submitted to the Center for Career and Professional Development by the dates specified on the monthly payroll schedule. Since stipend payments are made automatically, it is imperative that termination paperwork be submitted by the cutoff date posted on Payroll’s website. Stipend recipients may not be re-instated for the same stipend in the same semester after he/she has been terminated from their contract.

AUDIT REQUIREMENTS

Departmental records are subject to audit by the University's Internal Auditor and by external auditors. Supervisors may be held liable for any deviations or inaccuracies to Educational Stipend paperwork.

ADMINISTERING OFFICES

Questions regarding this policy should be referred to the Center for Career and Professional Development(828.227.3888). If a question pertains specifically to a payroll issue or FLSA policy interpretation, the Office of Human Resources and Payroll should be contacted (828.227.7218).

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