Federal Manager's Daily Report

OPM has told agencies to report on their calendar year 2021 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.

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The most recent report, issued early last year and covering 2019, showed that 29 agencies paid incentives to some 9,100 totaling $72.3 million. That was down from 34 agencies, 10,400 employees and $79 million in 2018, although the average payment rose to about $7,900 from about $7,600.

“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 account for the large majority of the payments—DoD, Justice, State and VA together make up about nine-tenths—and that the payments also are concentrated in a few occupational fields, mainly engineering, contracting, medical, special agents, foreign affairs, legal and accounting.

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