Photo of a W-4 form.

W-4 Form – Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate

American Students

What you fill in on the W-4 form determines how much federal and state income taxes are withheld from your paychecks every two weeks. 
If you are not sure how to complete this form, you should get advice from a family member. All student payroll income is taxable, including work study. The amount of tax withheld from your paychecks is determined by how you complete Boxes 5 and 6 or Box 7 of this form. 
Some “basic” instructions regarding completing this form are:
  • Do not fill in both boxes 5 and 7.  If you do this, the form is invalid and you will be asked to come back and fill out a new W-4. When you put a number in Box 5 (including zero), the employer may withhold tax from your checks based on your income each pay period. If you fill the word “Exempt” in Box 7, the employer will not withhold any tax at all, regardless of your income. So, the two choices contradict each other – if you fill in both of these boxes, the employer will not know what you prefer. 
  • The lower the number you write in Box 5, the higher the amount of tax that will be withheld from your paychecks. For example, a zero (0) in box 5 will result in more estimated tax being withheld from your paychecks than a one (1), and so on.
  • If you do not want any tax withheld from your paychecks, do not write anything in Boxes 5 and 6 and print the work “Exempt” in Box 7.

International Students

International students who have been in the U.S. for less than 5 years with an F1 or J1 Visa, must complete two W-4 forms. International tax withholding policy determines how these forms are to be completed. You will complete these forms in the Student Payroll Office before you may begin working. 
Once you have been in the U.S. for more than 5 years as an F1 or J1 student, you will be required to complete a new W-4 form. At this time you will have the same options for completing the form as American students have.
Some students are residents of countries which have treaties with the United States that allow us to pay you and not withhold any income tax from your paychecks. If you are from a treaty country, you will receive more information about this when you meet with the Student Payroll manager.