Why are the MSU campuses making this change?

The transition is part of a system-wide plan to bring employees at all Montana University System (MUS) locations onto a standardized pay schedule with the State of Montana. The new system provides several benefits, including:

  • a systematic approach to payroll time reporting
  • standardized payroll cycles across all MUS locations

How is this change going to affect me?

Employees will receive their earnings every other Wednesday. Please refer to the Bi-weekly Payroll Calendar for a complete list of pay dates for 2021.

You can use the Bi-weekly Pay Calculator located on the website at to find out. (You will need to enter various numbers from your pay stub into the calculator.).

You will receive a minimum of 26 and a maximum of 27 paychecks in a year.

Because bi-weekly periods don’t always line up exactly to the calendar year, there is often a bi-weekly pay period that crosses over from December to January.

It is not. People who are paid on the biweekly schedule will get a paycheck every other Wednesday, for two weeks of work. (Some months they will receive three paychecks.)

Being paid semi-monthly means receiving a paycheck twice a month, no matter how many weeks there are in a month.

Please refer to the Bi-weekly Payroll Calendar for a complete list of pay dates for 2021.

If you have set your pay earnings to be delivered through direct deposit, you will automatically
continue to receive them via direct deposit.

If you have a flat amount scheduled to be direct deposited each paycheck, you may want to consider changing the amount deposited each paycheck. Please see What can employees do to prepare for bi-weekly payroll?

If you have automatic bill pay set up for any regular expenses, such as mortgage payments, student loan payments or car payments; we encourage you to work directly with your financial institution(s) to change payment dates as needed for a bi-weekly pay schedule.

Bi-weekly payroll is based on a two-work week period of 80 hours for staff.  There are 26 pay periods in a fiscal year.  There are 20 pay periods in an academic year. The annual gross pay does not change. Academic year faculty payroll is based on a 78-hour pay period.

  • Academic year (AY) employees can divide their AY salary by 20.  (AY salary/20)
  • If you are a classified employee or paid hourly, multiply your hourly rate by the number of hours you normally work in an average week and multiply by two.  (Hourly rate x # hours worked in a week x 2)
  • If you are a contract fiscal year (FY) employee (receive 12 pays a year) multiply your monthly gross by 12 to get your annual gross, then divide by 26 [ (monthly salary x 12)/26]

As an employee who is paid bi-weekly, you will receive your earnings every other Wednesday.

Employees will receive the same annual amount of leave accrual (sick and vacation) but it will appear to be lower as it now accrues each pay period based on hours paid (excluding Overtime).

Years of qualifying service Per hour on pay status* Approximate yearly earning** Maximum accumulated balance
Less than 10 .057692 15 days 240 hours
10 but less than 15 .069231 18 days 288 hours
15 but less than 20 .080769 21 days 336 hours
20 or more .092308 24 days 384 hours
*Hours on pay status, including paid holidays but excluding all paid overtime hours
**Full-time rate

Go to www.debtwave.org/blog/juggling-your-monthly-bills-on-a-bwweekly-pay-schedule/ for budgeting tips related to juggling monthly bills with bi-weekly paychecks.

Payday will fall on different dates every month so planning ahead is important.

Make a list of monthly expenses and due dates

If all bills are due on the first of the month, you can work with creditors to change the due date schedule OR mentally or physically set some money aside from the current payday to meet future expenses

Review (and possibly change) your direct deposit set-up.  Remember, if you have a flat dollar amount going to a checking or savings account, that amount is going to come out of every payday, not just once per month, so the monthly amount will double or possibly triple.

Review (and possibly change) your W-4 Tax Exemptions/Allowances in My Info/Banner Web.  If you have a flat amount designated for Additional Withholding, that same dollar amount will now be withheld 26 times per year rather than 12.

Work with your financial institution if you have automatic bill payment established

If Friday falls on a holiday, timesheets are due Monday by 12:00PM noon.

Yes, there has been discussion concerning a 12-month pay option for academic year tenured, tenure-track faculty beginning with the contract year after a successful bi-weekly conversion takes place. In the following months, there will be more information forthcoming.

Yes, all MSU Colleges, Agrilcultural Experiment Stations, Extension Services, and the Fire Training School are included in the Bi-Weekly Payroll project.

Benefits, Deductions and Allowances

Yes. Payroll deductions will be split across the bi-weekly paychecks. Deductions are either fixed amounts
(e.g. $25) or a percentage of earnings (e.g. 2%).

  • Fixed deductions are divided and deducted twice
  • Percentage based deductions are deducted every check.

AY Faculty paid over 20 pays will see deductions from EVERY paycheck.

Percentage based deductions (ie. taxes, medicare, social security, garnishments, retirements) will be taken every payday.

403B and 457 tax deferred contributions will be deducted every payday.

Flat amount deductions (ie. Insurance, union dues, United Way) will be taken from 24 pays. In the two months with three paychecks, these deductions will NOT be taken from the third payday. This is commonly referred to as a "deduction holiday."

Academic Year (AY) employees will have deduction taken from all paydays.

Your MSU mandatory retirement contributions are taken each bi-weekly payday.
403(b) and 457(b) contributions will be deducted every payday.

If you have an additional tax amount deducted from your paycheck, you may want to consider changing your withholdings

If you do not want the current additional amount to be deducted, please go to the Banner Self Service website and review and/or update your Federal W-4. The Montana W-4 Forms can be found at


Your income will continue to have taxes withheld according to the Federal W-4 and State W-4
forms you currently have on file. Your earnings will have taxes withheld based on the bi-weekly tax schedules set by the Internal Revenue Service and the Montana Department of Revenue.

Cell phone allowances will be paid every paycheck.