The Office of Personnel Management has issued a memorandum for

agencies to submit their fiscal year 2003 student loan

repayment reports by December 31. And it’s asking pointed

questions about the value of the program.

The required annual report must contain the following data for

fiscal year 2003 (October 1, 2002, through September 30, 2003):

the number of federal employees who received student loan

repayment benefits; the job classifications of the recipients,

and the total dollar amount of student loan repayment benefits

issued by department or agency. OPM also requested that

respondents describe the effect that the program had on

recruitment and retention efforts, the extent to which

agencies have developed a business case for the use of

available funds for this purpose, and their efforts to publicize

the loan repayment incentive.

OPM promotes the federal student loan repayment program as an

employee incentive. Agencies may authorize a student loan

repayment of up to $6,000 for an employee in any calendar

year with a lifetime limit of $40,000. In return for

assistance, employees must sign up for service in the paying

agency for three years, and reimburse the agency in the event

that they quit earlier than three years or are fired for poor

performance.

Agencies reported to OPM a significant increase in repayments

for fiscal year 2002. Sixteen federal agencies provided more

than $3.1 million on behalf of 690 employees, and several

agencies reported that use of the program has helped them

achieve their recruitment and retention goals, according to

OPM’s Director Kay Coles James.

Managers at the Department of State, for example, used the

program as an internal recruitment tool to attract employees

to difficult to fill positions. Because its Foreign Service

employees are required to bid for ongoing assignments, State

used the loan repayment program as incentive to fill difficult

assignments on time. Still, some agency managers said they

did not use the program because they did not want their

actions to be perceived as favoritism.

Reports may be faxed at (202) 606-0824 or emailed to

pay-performance-policy@opm.gov. Contact Gene Holson of OPM’s

Pay and Leave Administration Group at (202) 606-2858 for

more information. Info Online