OPM has told agencies to report on their calendar year 2020 use of student loan reimbursements, one authority agencies can use to attract and keep employees in high-demand occupations.
Under the program, an agency can pay an employee up to $10,000 a year and up to $60,000 lifetime to be used pay off certain types of student loans. OPM wants information by March 31 including the numbers of recipients, their occupations, and amounts paid.
The most recently issued report, covering 2018, showed that 34 agencies paid incentives to some 10,400 employees totaling nearly $79 million, for an average payment of about $7,600. The figures in each category have risen steadily since cutbacks due to budgetary limits in 2011-2013 but still haven’t returned to their levels of 2010.
“We also invite you to share any additional information regarding best practices, lessons learned, program effectiveness, or metrics used to measure program success. We would also appreciate your input on how agencies can best establish and justify each business case, as well as how to address and resolve program impediments. Your agency may provide relevant details about your agency’s use of the student loan repayment authority as an effective recruitment or retention tool,” a memo said.
Agencies that didn’t use the authority are to explain why not, and whether they have a policy in place that would allow its use or are planning to have one.
Annual reports consistently show that only a handful of agencies—primarily DoD, Justice, State, SEC, HHS and VA—account for the large majority of the payments, and that the payments also are concentrated in only a small number of occupational fields, including engineering, contracting, medical, special agents, foreign affairs, legal and accounting.
ask.FEDweek.com: Student Loan Repayment Help Federal Employees