$74.9 Million Paid in Employee Student Loan Benefits

Federal employees received almost $75 million in student loan repayment benefits in 2017.

Available Student Loan Repayment Benefits

Federal agencies are allowed to establish programs for repayment of various types of student loans in order to recruit or retain highly-qualified agency employees. A federal agency can make payments to a loan holder of up to $10,000 for an employee in a calendar year. There is an aggregate maximum of $60,000 for any single employee.

Employee Obligations

To receive this benefit, an employee must sign an agreement to remain employed by the agency making the payment for at least 3 years. If the employee leaves the agency voluntarily or is separated involuntarily for misconduct, unacceptable performance, or a negative suitability determination before fulfilling the service agreement, the student loan repayment benefits that were received have to be repaid.

According to a report from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), agencies are using this legal authority to benefit federal employees.

About $75 Million in Benefits in One Year

In calendar year 2017, 34 Federal agencies provided 10,206 employees with more than $74.9 million in student loan repayment benefits. This is a 3.4 percent increase in federal employees receiving student loan repayment benefits compared to the previous year. It is also a 4.6 percent increase in agencies’ overall financial investment in this program.

More than 80% of the overall cost of these repayment benefits was provided by seven agencies (ranked by number of employees approved for participation):

  • Defense
  • Justice
  • State
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Health and Human Services
  • Veterans Affairs, and
  • Housing and Urban Development.

These agencies paid 79.5 percent of all student loan repayment recipients to federal employees. These agencies paid 8,118 employees with $60.9 million in student loan repayment benefits. The remaining 27 agencies reporting to OPM provided 2,088 employees with $14 million in student loan repayments.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47