Managing Work-Study in PeopleSoft

Oracle’s PeopleSoft HCM suite does a good job of handling one of the more difficult challenges for HR administrators in Higher Education HR; multiple jobs – also known as ‘Appointments’.

While Commitment Accounting meets the need for multiple funding sources without having to turn one job into multiple, there are still instances where institutions need to have multiple job assignments to a single employee.  The most common case is Student Employees.

One HR person working for a former client of mine used to say, “Students change jobs more often than they change their socks.”  Questions of hygiene aside, it is common for students hold various positions on campus because the work is not always steady or the hours might conflict with studies.  Department managers often work with students to schedule time and juggle staff to fill their work needs so asking students to hold one job at a time is unrealistic.

As I said earlier, this is not as much of an issue as it used to be in older versions of HCM except for students with Work-Study Awards.

Work-Study is a form of financial aid awarded to students based on need.  It allows them to work and earn money funded by federal, state and sometimes university based programs.  Some pay a large portion of the cost (typically around 75% but can vary and go up to 100% for certain types) while the employing department pays the rest but benefits from all of the labor.

Managing work-study students poses two issues for PeopleSoft HCM:

  1. Working multiple jobs to earn work-study money
  2. Managing a single award amount over multiple jobs

Each student receives a specific amount or ‘Award’ can vary by student.  Work-Study is awarded by academic year and often semester by semester.  Once granted, it is desirable to have the student earn all of the available funds.  Departments often compete over hiring students with work-study awards as it helps their budgets.

Delivered Solution to managing Work-Study

Commitment Accounting allows you to define a position funded by work-study and charge the appropriate cost centers (Combination codes in HCM) by percentage of earnings.  You can also easily limit the earnings charged to work-study.  See example below:


  • Sequence Number ‘1’ splits the funding by $1,500 to Combination Code for Work-Study and $500 to the Department’s cost center.  Since there are two amounts, the system automatically calculates the percentage to be 75/25 in this case.
  • Once the employee earns $2,000, Sequence Number ‘2’ takes effect, charging 100% to the Department’s cost center.

This works fine if the student has a single position and that position is a single headcount position – or you directly attach a budget to the Job.  (Note: if you are using commitment accounting you probably drive it by positions – which is the most effective way to use it- and want to avoid budgeting at the appointment level)

For a student with multiple work-study jobs, you could use Position Pools – a way of managing multiple positions under one budget – but jobs must be in the same department – which is not often the case.  The idea of pooling multiple jobs under one budget would be a good solution if the system allowed cross department pooling (and larger position pool ID’s – only a 3-digit number now).

As an alternative solution, several of my clients have asked me to create a bolt-on functionality to correct the results of payroll distribution.  We did this by first adding a record to store student award amounts. (see example) 

This custom page manages a student’s award(s) by category (Federal, State, etc.) and by term within academic year

It also ties individual Jobs to work-study and sets priority on which one gets funding first (within the same pay period)


Supporting Set Up Tables:



This table defines Work-Study categories and the funding percentage to each source along with account information

Note: Account at this client = Combination Code in PeopleSoft and Object Class = Account in PeopleSoft – 3rd Party Financials








Calendar table used by the re-distribution program to determine which academic period matches the pay cycle



Part of this bolt-on solution is a program that runs after the Actuals Distribution program but before GL Interface to review earnings distribution and apply rules (defined at the Award Category level) for distribution to work-study accounts and monitoring the available funds so as not to exceed the award amount.


This approach, while adding a custom module, allowed this client to put students in any position (even multi-headcount) and not worry about funding sources or limits.  It also allowed them to apply work-study funding to multiple jobs, thus ensuring the student will get the opportunity to earn all of those work-study dollars.  Each institution has different needs so this solution has looked a little different each time we implemented it – but the basic approach is the same.

While we don’t recommend customizations to core programs delivered by the vendor, we can find creative solutions* to handle a lack of functionality through less invasive ‘Bolt-On’ modules.

* At this writing, no one has yet to come up with a way to get students to change their socks!

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