The complex transition to the new finance-and-human-resources system Workday has revealed pain points that have been particularly evident for employees who manage, distribute and track work-study funding, leading to confusion and frustration for some departments and work-study students. 

Though work-study funding for the current year has been exhausted, the good news is that solutions to these challenges are in progress. 

Teams in Finance, Financial Aid, Human Resources and Information Technology Services have been working around the clock to identify the root causes of the problems that are frustrating those who administer and use work-study, the popular financial-aid program that provides paid employment for eligible students. 

Cross-functional teams working on these issues have already implemented solutions to some of the problems supervisors and students were experiencing, said Chief Information Officer Kevin Taylor. 

  • Financial Aid will confirm whether a student has been awarded work-study funding before supervisors make an offer and Human Resources begins onboarding. Prior to this process change, supervisors sometimes made offers to students potentially eligible for work-study without confirmation of an actual award amount. 
  • To ensure that work study is being correctly allocated and not overcharged, fiscal managers have been added to the new-hire process.  

Problem-solving is also underway for other reported problems related to work-study, Taylor said.  

  • For example, supervisors have had a hard time managing their student employees’ hours because they’ve been unable to see work-study awards and balances in the system. Next month, a consulting firm will begin work on a Workday dashboard — scheduled for completion in March — that will display this information. 
  • The consultants, who specialize in Workday solutions, will also help improve integration between Banner, the platform on which students receive awards, and Workday, the platform from which they are paid. Improving the reconciliation process will eliminate a lengthy manual process that can result in a student’s pay being charged to the wrong department. 
  • Other improvements that Workday users and students can expect to see next semester include additional Workday reports and notifications, including those that let supervisors and students know when an offer is awarded and when threshold markers such as earning 50% of the award are met. 

The work to identify and implement process improvements is ongoing, said Larry Sampler, chief operating officer and vice president for Administration. 

Larry Sampler, M.A., Vice President for Finance and Administration & Chief Operating Officer

We are excited about how Workday will improve the way we do business across the University,” he said.  But we know that the transition to this new system has come with challenges and a learning curve. We understand the frustration that some of you have experienced, and we’re committed to finding solutions to unexpected issues, including those related to workstudy.” 

While the University addresses the hiring-process issues around work-study, other factors are also putting a pinch on departments that have relied on the program to bring student employees onto their teams.  

State and federal funding for MSU Denver’s work-study program is shrinking, from $3.5 million last school year to $3.4 million this year, according to the Office of Financial Aid. Denver’s continuing minimum-wage increase further limits how far work-study dollars can go. There were 343 students awarded work-study funds to work for the fall 2023 semester. 


Work-study provides work experience 

MSU Denver annually exhausts its federal work-study funding, ensuring that it is made available to as many students as possible. However, due to the purpose, requirements and restrictions of the work-study program, funds are limited, and the program does not guarantee a work-study job for all eligible students.  

Kerline Eglaus, Ed.D., executive director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, emphasized that work-study is a financial-aid program intended to educate and prepare students for careers. It should not be used to fill personnel gaps or considered as a condition for establishing a student-employee position. However, she understands that departments face serious budget constraints.  

Though funding for the current school year has already been awarded to eligible students, her office is collaborating with impacted departments and Human Resources to identify solutions that may enable departments to retain their student employees. Departments that aren’t doing so already should begin establishing defined budgets for hourly student employees, Eglaus said. Now is the time to confer with your supervisor, chair or University Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (UPBAC) representative as divisional budget proposals are being prepared.   

“We understand some departments are experiencing budgeting challenges with hiring student hourly employees,” Eglaus said. We’re doing everything we can to assist with hiring options. It’s critical for supervisors and employees to collaborate with their fiscal and budget managers to plan ahead for personnel needs in general and specifically for student employment beyond those funded with work-study allocations.” 


Work-study is tied to students’ overall financial-aid package 

Increasing a student’s work-study funding at the request of a department may mean that student receives less financial aid in the form of grants, stipends or scholarships, added Chief Enrollment Officer Long Huynh, DBA.  

Long Huynh headshot

“Since work-study funding is a financial-aid award, we want to ensure that we allow opportunities for students to receive other financial-aid funding such as grants and scholarships,” Huynh said. “Reducing awards does not mean students are penalized. If a student’s financialaid package requires an adjustment, MSU Denver may need to reduce the student’s work-study award to ensure eligible students are able to take advantage of a scholarship or grant.”  

ITS, HR, Finance and Financial Aid will continue the work on identifying specific solutions and will update student-employment supervisors on progress as applicable.  Additionally the University is planning a student-employment town hall in early spring to further address concerns and solutions on the way forward.   

In the meantime, supervisors should:  

  • Position student-employment roles in alignment with work-study guidelines, including encouraging work related to the student’s course of study.   
  • Monitor student employees’ hours and keep track of the remaining work-study funds.  
  • Confer with your supervisor and fiscal manager on what funding is needed for Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposals, due in January.  
  • Review the below work-study FAQs, contacts and resources.  



What is work study? 

Work study is a state and federal employment program that provides paid jobs for students who need to earn a portion of their educational expenses. The program is a significant source of support for both students and departments; however, funding is limited and is not guaranteed to all students.    

Current types of student employment 

  • Federal Work Study  
  • Colorado Work Study  
  • No-need Work Study  
  • Student Hourly   

How does it work?  

Students must complete FAFSA/CASFA, find a job and track their hours, while the Financial Aid team is responsible for verifying the award, allocating funds and reconciling the work-study budget. The HR and Finance teams coordinate onboarding, tracking and paying student employees, and departments and supervisors manage employees’ work assignments in alignment with work-study requirements and available funding.      

How are student employees compensated? 

Many student employees receive Denver’s minimum wage rate of $17.29 per hour. That rate will increase to $18.29 beginning Jan. 1. As minimum wage continues to increase in the City and County of Denver, the University’s work-study allocation does not change.   

Are any work-study funds still available for the 2023-24 academic year?  

The University has allocated all available work-study funding for the current academic year.  As financial-aid eligibility may occur for currently awarded (work-study) students, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships may announce the availability of work-study funds for other eligible students.  

How are work-study funds allocated to  eligible students?    

Students earning money through work study are subject to Financial Aid stipulations pertaining to credit hours and Satisfactory Academic Progress. See the “How It Works” section of the Office of Financial Aid’s Work Study website.   

If the University does not have enough work-study funds for all eligible students, what are the alternative options for employees/supervisors to support the needs of their offices as well as interested students?    

The supervisor should work with their supervisor or fiscal manager to see if departmental funds can be made accessible.   

What happens if a department employs a work-study student but runs out of work-study funding before the end of the student’s term of employment?    

If this happens, departments and offices must reallocate funding from within their own budgets to cover the funding gap and ensure that students are properly and quickly compensated for their work. It is critical to have these budgeting conversations with your team’s fiscal manager to ensure that funding is available for all student employees. In some instances, departments may need to release a work-study student employee due to lack of departmental funding. This would need to be shared with the HR and Financial Aid offices.  

How can my department address staffing needs?   

Departments should work with their HR senior partner, their fiscal manager and the budget team to discuss options that could include submitting a vacancy request or reconsidering professional staffing.   

Through regular budget-to-actual reviews and the budget-development process, the Budget Office is working closely with teams across campus to support student employment beyond work-study funding where possible.  

What changes should we anticipate for 2024-25 academic year?   

Some work-study funding requirements that were paused during the Covid-19 pandemic will be reinstated for the 2024-25 academic year. Primarily, a portion of the University’s total pool of work-study funding will once again be allocated to students completing community-based and off-campus work-study positions. This will reduce the University’s pool of work-study funding that can be directed to on-campus positions.    


Contact information 

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