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Payroll - FAQs

Personnel Action Forms

1.  Who should I contact about my rate of pay?

You should contact the department administrator in your home department for questions about your rate of pay.


2.  Do I need to do a new Student PAF (SPAF) every semester?

No, if the position and pay remains the same in both the fall and spring semesters, one SPAF will cover both of those semesters. If a student works during the summer, a new SPAF is needed since student jobs are terminated at the end of the spring semester. See the Student Employment section of the Office of Financial Aid for more details.


3.  Why are One-time payments taxed at a higher rate?

One-time payments are considered supplemental pay by the IRS and must be taxed at the higher IRS supplemental withholding rate.


Time Sheets

1.  When is my timesheet due?

Paper timesheets are to be signed by the employee/student and approved by the supervisor/manager and are due in payroll by 12 noon on the Friday that precedes the pay date.  Web-Time Entry timesheets via ESTHER must be submitted by 11am and approved by 5pm the Monday preceding the pay date. Failure to meet this WTE deadline will require a paper timesheet be turned in to be paid with the following payroll. There are exceptions due to holidays so you should always check the Payroll calendar deadlines.


2.  Do you accept fax copies of timesheets?

Payroll will accept a fax timesheet to process your pay, but the original timesheet must be received by Wednesday prior to the pay date or your check will be held until it is turned into Payroll. Timesheets attest to an individual's work and must be signed by the employee, verified and approved by their supervisor/manager, and submitted to Payroll to ensure timely payment. Legible documents with original signatures are required to be in compliance with record keeping requirements.


3.  Will I get paid if I turn my timesheet in late?

It is imperative that your timesheet is turned in timely to assure being paid on pay day. Depending upon when the timesheet is turned in, it may be delayed until next pay day, especially if the payroll is done being processed.


4.  What happens if I forget to sign my timesheet?

We strongly urge you to carefully review your timesheet for accuracy and the proper signatures to avoid delays in getting paid. We will process your timesheet but any direct deposit allocations will be deactivated and your paycheck will be held until your signed timesheet is received.


5.  Why didn't I get overtime when I used benefit time in the same week?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime is paid for time worked over 40 hours during a one week period. Rice policy allows Holiday time to contribute, however Benefit time does not count towards these 40 hours toward overtime eligibility.


6.  What if I turned in the wrong hours on my last timesheet?

The correct hours can be adjusted on the next pay date if a revised timesheet is approved by your supervisor and submitted to payroll in a timely matter!



Tax Forms

1.  How do I update my W-4 form for Federal Income Tax withholding?

                    This can be done through your Esther account or by paper form.  Changes submitted through Esther are applied immediately. 


2.  I am an employee on a work visa, how are my tax withholdings determined?

                    More information is coming soon.  Please contact the Payroll Office for specific information. 




Pay checks

1.  Where do I pick up my check?

We strongly urge that everyone sign up for direct deposit, as this will ensure your funds are in your financial institution timely. This can be done on your ESTHER account. All paper checks must be picked up in the Cashier's Office from the hours of 8:30am to 2pm Monday through Friday. If you have questions about where your paycheck is, please call Payroll at ext. 3410. 


***Effective December 16, 2014, all checks will be mailed to the Mailing address on file.*** 


2.  I work off campus, can I have my paychecks campus mailed?

Original checks must be picked up either by the individual being paid. At any time, you are strongly encouraged to sign up for direct deposit on ESTHER.


3.  If I have an emergency, can I get my check early?

Generally, pay checks can't be released before the pay date. Emergency situations are handled on an individual basis through your department. However, the check must never be cashed or deposited before the original pay date!

4.  Why is there a fine on my check stub?

For any non-benefit deductions such as fines, tax liens, child support, and parking, please email payroll@rice.edu.


5.  What are my benefit deductions?

Benefits including health insurance, medical or dependent care spending or supplemental retirement deductions are handled by the Human Resources Benefits Team at ext. 2363 or email benefit@rice.edu. You can also view the benefits deductions by logging into ESTHER and selecting the "Benefits and Deductions" menu option under the "Employee" section.


Direct Deposit

1.  How can I set up direct deposit?

You can set up direct deposit through your ESTHER account using. Login and select “Employee”> “Pay Information”> “Direct Deposit Allocation” and enter your routing and account information. Check the “payroll deposit” option and indicate the amount or percentage to be deposited each paycheck. The “accounts payable deposit” option allows for any disbursements checks to be deposited into this account. As a plus checking this option may allow for your first payroll check to be directly deposited. Not checking this box will result at least one more paper check to activate the account.

2.  Can direct deposit be set up with any banking institution?

Direct deposits can usually be set up with any financial institution only within the USA. Any exceptions to this will be identified during the pre-noting process. If you have a financial institution that ESTHER does not recognize, you may email payroll@rice.edu with the routing number and name of the bank requesting that the institution be added. Do not under any circumstance email your account number!


3.  How can I make changes to my direct deposit allocations?

Changes and additions may also be made through your ESTHER account. Adding or replacing a bank may require an additional pay period to activate. This will result in a paper check to be picked up in the Cashier's Office. However, edits to the amounts or percentages of the funds can be made without requiring reactivation.


4.  Where do I pick up my direct deposit pay stub?

Direct deposit stubs are not printed. Please log into ESTHER to view and print your stub.



1.  Where can I view the Payroll calendars?

For calendars and dates of particular importance, go to the Controller's home page and click on Calendar in the menu on the left. At the very top part of that page, there is a link to the Payroll calendars.


2.  Why are the W-2s not sent out at the end of December?

W-2s are required to be mailed and post marked by January 31st after the calendar year ends. Rice will mail W-2s by that date. If you are a current employee, you can elect to receive the W-2 electronically and you will receive an email notice when they are available. When the W-2s are approved for release, the electronic form is available earlier since the paper form takes additional time to be received in the mail. Go to ESTHER under employee tax forms to make this electronic selection.





If you’re salaried employee on the SM payroll (paid twice per month) and noticed a pay adjustment on your check, it may be one of the following:


SUP- One time “supplemental” pay.

SNR- One-time payment without retirement (usually mobile stipends)

BNS- Congrats on receiving a bonus!

AWA- Congrats on your award!

PRT- Retro-payment.

PR2- Retro-payment for an entire pay period missed.

SEV- A goodbye gift from Rice!

VEH- Taxable portion of the vehicle stipend you receive.

DPO- Advanced money for faculty being paid over 12 months.

DPA- Re-payment of advanced DPO at FY start and funds for FY end.

DSM- Short-term disability pay @ 80% of regular salary.

VPO- Vacation benefits payout.

REG- Regular paycheck earnings.




If you’re an hourly employee on the B2 payroll (paid every two weeks), here are some earning codes you might notice on your check:


SP2- Special pay rate, for example, a past time-sheet that didn’t get paid on time.

HOL- Benefits eligible employees typically get paid for all Rice observed holidays.

HDF- If you’ve worked on a holiday, you’ll see this “holiday differential” pay code for the hours worked.

BEN- Benefit days, for example, vacation, sick time, etc.

OVE- Overtime earnings.

DS2- Short-term disability @ 80% of regular hourly rate.

REG- Regular paycheck earnings.

RCS- Recess, for example, Rice closure during the holiday season.

VPO- Vacation benefits payout.

EVT- Special event pay.

STB- Standby payment (typically used for “on-call” work).

JUR- Jury duty payment (benefit eligible employees get paid one day’s work).

SUP- One time “supplemental pay”.

SNR- One time payment (without retirement).

AWA- Congrats on your award!

BNS- Congrats on your bonus!

BRV- Bereavement pay