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Frequently Asked Questions

Student Programs

Q. What is the Students Training to Acquire Real-life Skills (S.T.A.R.S) Program?

A. The Students Training to Acquire Real-life Skills (S.T.A.R.S.) Program has three components: student temporary employment, student career experience and student volunteers. It is available to all levels of students: high school, vocational and technical, associate degree, baccalaureate degree, graduate degree, and professional degree students.

S.T.A.R.S. provides learning and developmental opportunities and work experience for students in high school, vocational and technical schools, undergraduate (both associate and baccalaureate degrees), graduate and doctoral programs. It provides students with a mixture of formal training and developmental on-the-job training assignments for professional success and growth.

Q. What are the eligibility requirements for the Students Training to Acquire Real-life Skills (S.T.A.R.S) Program?

A. You are eligible under the Students Training to Acquire Real-life Skills (S.T.A.R.S) Program if you are:

  • A student enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a degree-seeking student (diploma, certificate, etc.)
  • At least a minimum of 16 years old,
  • Taking at least half-time academic or vocational and technical course load in an accredited high school, technical or vocational school, 2-year or 4-year college or university, graduate or professional school, and

U.S. citizenship is required for conversion to permanent employment under the Student Career Experience Component

Q. What is the status of my application?

A. Once you complete and submit your application, it is placed into a database for review and consideration as positions become available. As positions become available, your application will be reviewed to determine if you are eligible and qualified for positions in which you have expressed interest.

Q. How do I know about whether the job I am applying to requires that I am a U.S. Citizen?

A. Once you are contacted about a specific position for which you will be interviewed, details regarding the specifications for the job duties, location and whether the job requires that you are a U.S. citizen will be provided to you during the interview process.

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Q. How long does it take to get a student job with HHS?

A. The amount of time to obtain a student position with HHS varies. The length is dependent upon whether or not a position is available. Once positions become available, Human Resources staff works diligently with hiring managers to ensure that the positions are filled as soon as possible.

Q. Can I receive transcript notation?

A. Yes, if your school has a formal process established to provide you with transcript notation. Prior to accepting a paid or unpaid position with the Department, provide your school requirements to your supervisor prior to beginning your position so that they are aware of the documents they must complete.

Q. How many hours a week can I work?

A. This is dependent upon the position. When you are contacted about the details of the position, such as job location, duties, pay, etc., you will be notified about whether or not this is a part time (less than 32 hours a week) or a full time (maximum of 40 hours) per week.

Q. How do I know about what job I am applying to?

A. You are applying to a “generic” vacancy announcement to be considered for student employment. There is not an “official” job you are applying to at the moment; however, when a job does become available and we find that you are qualified for the position, we will forward your information to the hiring manager. If the hiring manager is interested in your application, they will contact you for an interview.

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Q. How do I know about where I am going to work?

A. You will be notified about your work location once you are contacted about an interview. The Department has offices located across the country.

Q. Can A Student Appointed To One Of These Programs Remain On The Appointment Once They Have Completed Their Educational Requirements?

A. Students appointed to the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) may continue on the job for 120 days beyond the date of completing their work and academic requirements. At the end of the 120 days, if the graduate has not been converted to a position in the competitive service, he/she must be separated. Once a student appointed to the Student Temporary Employment Program has completed the requirements for his/her degree/diploma/certificate (as appropriate), he/she is no longer a student, and must be separated. The reason for the separation is that they are no longer "students" and therefore no longer meet the basic eligibility for the program.

Q. Can Students Be Promoted?

A. Yes. Students in both programs are eligible for promotion. However, the NOAC (Nature of Action Code) for students in the Student Temporary Employment Program is actually a conversion to a new appointment (at the higher grade level) while keeping the current NTE date. Even though the actual nature of action is a conversion to a new appointment, a GS employee is entitled to an increase in pay of at least two steps (about 6 percent) upon placement in a higher graded position without a break in service. A WG employee is entitled to an increase in pay of at least one step (about 4 per cent).

Q. Are Students Eligible For Annual And Sick Leave?

Only students appointed to the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) will earn annual and sick leave.

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Q. Are Students Eligible For Health And Life Insurance Benefits?

A. Health and life insurance coverage for Federal employees depends on the type of appointment an employee has and the expectation of substantial employment during the year. Students in the Student Temporary Employment Program are considered temporary employees and are generally not entitled to these benefits. However, once students have been continuously employed for a year without a break in service exceeding 5 days, they may enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, but they would have to pay 100% of the premium (i.e., both the employee and government share). There is no provision for temporary employees to be eligible for life insurance coverage.

Students in the Student Career Experience Program are eligible for both health and life insurance coverage as long as they are expected to be employed under this appointment authority for at least one year and are expected to be in a pay status for at least one third of the total period of time from the date of their initial appointment to the date of the completion of the program. Cost of premiums is split between the employee and the agency, as for all permanent employees.

Q. Are Students Eligible For Retirement Benefits?

A. Students in the Student Temporary Employment Program are generally ineligible for retirement coverage. Students in the Student Career Experience Program with less than 5 years of prior civilian service are generally covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Q. Can Students Be Placed On Intermittent Schedules?

A. An intermittent schedule is only appropriate when the nature of the work is so sporadic and unpredictable that a regularly scheduled tour of duty cannot be scheduled in advance. It is not the intent of the Student Educational Employment Program to have students working in these types of positions. Students can work full or part time schedules, as best meets their needs and the needs of the agency.

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Q. Must Students Work Or Attend School During The Summer?

A. The intent of Students Training to Acquire Real-life Skills (S.T.A.R.S) is that students are always either attending classes, working at the agency, or both. However, agencies may use their discretion to permit a "break in program” during which time a student is neither attending classes nor working. The student would be placed on leave with out pay during this time.

Q. Does A Student's Work Experience, While On The Student Temporary Appointment, Count Towards The Required 640 Hours Necessary For Noncompetitive Conversion Career Conditional Employment?

A. Yes, if the work performed is related to the student’s academic studies and career goals. There should be clear documentation showing the "relatedness" between the work (actual duties/tasks/assignments) performed while on the Student Temporary Employment Program appointment and the Student Career Experience Program appointment.

Q. Does The Time Spent On The Student Temporary Employment Program Count Towards Career Tenure? Time In Grade?

A. The time does not count towards career tenure because the three year period must begin and end with non-temporary employment in the competitive service. However, the time spent on the student temporary appointment would be creditable towards any time in grade calculation. (Time spent on the former Stay In School appointment would also be credited towards time in grade)

Q. May Students Alternate School And Work (i.e. Work Full Time This Semester, And Next Semester Go To School Full Time, and Not Work At All)?

A. Yes. The student, school and agency need to work together to accommodate the academic needs of the student and the work related needs of the agency. For students participating in the Student Career Experience Program there must be a written agreement and a formally arranged schedule of school and work.

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