Student - FICA Exemption

Students generally do not have to pay FICA taxes.  The university follows IRS rules in determining a student's exemption from FICA withholding.  FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) refers to taxes for Social Security and Medicare.  Social Security is a federal program that provides benefits for retirees, the disabled, and children of deceased workers.  The rate is 6.2% of taxable wages.  Medicare is the federal health insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration.  The rate is 1.45% of taxable wages. 

Under section 3121(b)(10) of the Internal Revenue Code, a student employee will be exempt from FICA taxes if the student is enrolled at least half-time.

Number of Credit Hours

Criteria for a half-time student:

  • Undergraduate student - 6 credit hours
  • Graduate student - 5 credit hours

If the academic term begins or ends at any point within a pay period, the entire pay period is eligible for the FICA exemption.

Non-Resident Aliens

Non-resident alien employees with F-1 or J-1 visas, regardless of their course load, will be eligible for the FICA exemption as long as they are not considered residents for tax purposes.  However, if their resident status changes they may lose the exemption if they aren't enrolled in the minimum number of credit hours. 

Non-System Students

Non-system students do not qualify for the FICA exemption.


If you have questions about the student FICA exemption, please contact Mike Kasahun in the Payroll Office. or 6-1107.