Social Security and Medicare Taxes (FICA)

In general, all employees paid by the university (and by any other U.S. employer) are required to pay, in addition to federal and state income taxes, federal employment taxes at a fixed percentage of their earnings (currently 7.65%). The Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) requires that Social Security (12.4%) and Medicare (2.9%) "contributory" taxes be paid - one half by the employee and one half by the university - as a way of funding our governmental old age, survivors, disability and hospital insurance (OASDI) systems. Since FICA taxes are "employment taxes," they are not withheld from pay where no services are required, such as from stipends.

An exception in the wage and employment laws permits the salaries of GW students working for GW and enrolled and regularly attending classes at the university to be exempted from such taxes. Current regulations further require that the student's primary activity be that of a student rather than that of an employee who is also taking classes. IRS administrative rulings have helped to set national standards that are currently followed by most universities.

In accordance with these accepted standards, in order to be eligible for exception from FICA tax, the university requires (1) that you must be a GW student; (2) that you must be taking a course load equal to at least one-half of a full-time workload for their respective school as defined by the Office of the Registrar; and (3) that you must be employed by GW. A review of your status is performed at the beginning of each semester.

Additionally, students in their final semester of studies who have fallen below the full-time standard and Masters or Doctoral Students who have finished their coursework but who are still officially enrolled in their program and under supervision of a faculty advisor will need to send to Payroll Services a signed request for continued FICA exemption. They will need to include documentation from the Office of the Registrar, from their department, or from their advisor indicating the reason why they are below the appropriate half time credit hour limits and/or certifying to half-time student status. Certain graduate students should find the Request for Certification for Half-Time/Full-time Student Status appropriate for this purpose.