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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Students Say USC Lags When Paying Workers

According to students, USC has failed to pay the required wages for on-campus jobs. ATVN's Madison Mills investigates. 

USC student workers are coming forward saying they are not receiving their paychecks on time. Students say that payroll problems have allegedly been going on since last December, when University Payroll Services switched to a new payment system.

Despite the issues with payment, students are continuing to work for fear that if they quit they will not be able to get hired by another employer on campus. Nell Sherman, a senior and former Ground Zero employee, says even when she was paid, she was given the wrong amount.

“In two months at Ground Zero, I should’ve made about $970. It was only in the first week of november that I saw any of that money,” said Sherman, who decided to quit her job after dealing with the stress of not being paid.

Sherman stressed that payment problems are not coming from Ground Zero specifically. She believes that the issues stem from a payroll problem.

ATVN reached out to University Student Affairs for a comment in response to these claims, and they referred us to University Payroll Services. They declined an interview request, but issued a comment saying, "University Payroll Services works with the university community to ensure timely and accurate payment for employees.”

Still, student workers are unsure where the payment problems could possibly stem from. Student paychecks are issued once students fill out a timesheet using Trojan Time, which is then approved by the student's manager. The time sheet is then processed, and University Payroll Services either cuts checks for students or deposits paychecks directly into the accounts of students. 

One anonymous student who works in Viterbi assumed that he must have filled out his time sheet incorrectly when his paychecks weren’t coming in. But he says this was not the case.

“I came to find out it was all because of whatever payroll issues were going on,” says the student, who was allegedly offered a $250 loan from Viterbi during the time when he was not being paid. The student declined the loan, choosing to wait for his paycheck instead.

“I just got paid for the entire semester two days ago.”

Student employees who are in charge of managing other students are now trying to explain to their coworkers and peers why the payment issues are occurring. 

“Students who’ve not received paychecks don’t know what to do so they come to us but our power is so limited to make decisions with payroll—that all goes to Student Affairs who just hasn’t done anything for months,” says a Production Manager at Ground Zero.

Some student employees say a full-time adult employee brought a law-suit forward last year to fight for the rights of students who were not being paid, but the full-time employee chose to remain anonymous as well. 

The root of the payment problems is unclear, but student workers are still feeling the effects of these issues. 

“All the time I spent trying to accommodate my family by pulling my own weight a little bit… I did that all for working and I didn’t get any money for a really long time,” says Neil Sherman. 

ATVN will continue to investigate this issue moving forward.


DT staff and editors get paid a small amount per article/photo of theirs that runs in the paper. It's not much but it can add up if you're an avid writer/photographer/designer, etc. Ever since the switch to the new payroll system and Student Affairs' budget problems, that "paycheck" goes to students' USCard as discretionary funds, so they can only spend the money on campus.

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