All employees of the University of Nebraska are subject to social security tax withholding, based on the earnings levels and tax rates established by the IRS. Two categories of employees may be exempt from social security tax withholding, depending on the specific facts and circumstances relating to their employment as follows:

  • Undergraduate and graduate students who meet the tests defined in IRS revenue procedure 98-16 and university policy for being enrolled and regularly attending classes during the academic semester in which they are employed will be exempt from FICA withholding on University wages. The term “student” refers to undergraduate or graduate
  • Nonresident aliens who hold F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 visas and who are performing employment that is consistent with the provisions of their visa status; and do not meet the substantial presence test (SPT) which is 5 years for students and 2 years for teacher/researcher.
Student Employees

In accordance with federal tax laws, the University of Nebraska shall grant an exemption from social security (FICA) tax withholding on wages paid to a student during an academic semester or summer session in which the student is enrolled and regularly attending classes. A student will be deemed to be enrolled and regularly attending classes if he/she is enrolled at least half-time, i.e. 50% of the minimum number of hours required for full-time enrollment certification purposes. Minimum exemption thresholds are:

Undergraduate Students:

Fall, Spring Semesters six (6) credit hours per semester

All Summer Sessions Combined

six (6) credit hours

Graduate Students:

Fall, Spring Semesters five (5) credit hours per semester can be certified full-time
All Summer Sessions Combined five (5) credit hours per session can be certified full-time
Active Dissertation Status one (1) credit hour per semester must be certified as full-time

Between Semesters

Students who are enrolled and regularly attending classes in a given academic semester/session will be entitled to the exemption from FICA tax withholding for any brief period of time between the end of one semester/session and the start of the succeeding semester/session if they qualified for the exemption in the immediately preceding semester/session. For example, a student who is enrolled during the second summer session would retain the exemption during the period between the end of the second summer session and the start of the fall semester and also during Holiday Closedown.

In all circumstances, it is the responsibility of the student worker to register, maintain their student status and complete any required forms to be eligible for FICA exempt status. If a student fails to maintain exempt status during the fall and spring semester or summer sessions by dropping credit hours or terminating their student status, all wages paid from that point forward are subject to FICA.

Full-Time Employees

All non-student and/or full-time employees will not be eligible for the student FICA exemption.

IRS Student FICA guidelines -Social Security Administration