Skip to main content

Educational Stipend Policies and Procedures

The following provides information regarding Non Work Study Educational Stipend policies. For questions, please contact Michelle Lawson in Human Resources & Payroll or call 828.227.2064. 

Educational Stipend recipients are undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at Western Carolina University and who are in positions that provide an educational opportunity in leadership or in a specific area of specialty.  

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. Stipends are not considered wages. Students receiving stipends are not considered employees of the University for the purpose of 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. While not considered an employee, the stipend is processed through payroll and students are required to complete the I-9 and provide documentation of identity and work eligibility. 


An Educational Stipend recipient must be enrolled in 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

Educational Stipend positions are posted on Talent Management. Read the position posting carefully, fill out your application accurately and completely and attach any required documents. Each department does its own hiring. Human Resources & Payroll does not schedule interview appointments or know the in-depth details about the positions. If you are hired by an on-campus office, the contact person will complete an electronic hiring proposal.  Once the hiring proposal is reviewed and approved, you will receive an email from the system directing you to the onboarding site.  Please complete your onboarding as soon as possible and then report to Human Resources & Payroll at 302 H.F. Robinson prior to starting work. You may not start work until your supervisor receives an email indicating you are authorized to work. Please bring the required Identification documents as required by law. An Educational Stipend contract must be signed for each school year or summer session. 

If a student is enrolled for the upcoming fall semester at or above the minimum number of hours, they can receive stipends throughout the summer even if they are not enrolled for summer classes. If a student receives an Educational Stipend during the summer but is not enrolled in summer classes, they are 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 while they are enrolled during 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 they enroll in another summer class.

A student may not receive stipends upon graduation from Western Carolina University. The student's last day of contract may not be after their date of commencement.  A student who is not registered for a 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, they will be subject to FICA tax for the hours completed after the student became ineligible to work.

An Educational Stipend recipient will be compensated at the end of each month in accordance to their Educational Stipend Contract.  If a supervisor wishes to change stipend status or stipend amount, they must complete the Educational Stipend Change Form and submit it to Human Resources & Payroll, 302 H.F. Robinson, for review and approval. Compensation for Educational Stipends is established via the Educational Stipend Contract when they have been signed and processed through Human Resources & Payroll for the dates listed on the contract, or until the recipient has been terminated from their contract. 

An Educational Stipend recipient who is no longer actively participating in their 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 Human Resources and Payroll by the dates specified on the Payroll Calendars 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 they have been terminated from their contract.

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 in Educational Stipend paperwork.

Questions regarding this policy should be referred to Human Resources & Payroll (828.227.7218).

Office of Web Services