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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Employee Eligibility

  • Any employee (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2105) who is highly qualified is eligible to receive a student loan repayment, except those employees who currently occupy or will occupy a position excepted from the competitive service because of its confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character (e.g., employees serving under Schedule C appointments). Under 5 CFR 537.104, agencies may offer student loan repayment benefits to recruit a highly qualified job candidate or retain a highly qualified employee who, during the service period established under a service agreement, will be serving under (1) an appointment other than a time-limited appointment or (2) a time-limited appointment if-
    • The employee (or job candidate) will have at least 3 years remaining under the appointment after the beginning of the service period; or  
    • The time-limited appointment authority leads to conversion to another appointment of sufficient duration so that his or her employment with the agency is projected to last for at least 3 additional years after the beginning of the service period.
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  • The types of academic degrees and/or levels covered by the program are not specified in law.  Agencies are encouraged to tailor their plans to recruit highly qualified candidates and/or retain highly qualified employees in their current positions.  Therefore, an agency may specify the types of degrees and levels necessary to attain this goal.
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  • The statute authorizing this program states that this incentive is to be used for employees of a given agency who have outstanding student loans.  Thus, if the employee has a PLUS loan for his or her child, the loan would qualify for repayment.  However, if a PLUS loan is held by an employee’s parent, the employee is not eligible for loan repayment benefits for the parent’s PLUS loan.  While a PLUS loan an employee has previously taken out to help pay for his or her child's education is a qualifying student loan under 5 U.S.C. 5379(a)(1)(B) and 5 CFR 537.102, an agency may specify in its agency loan repayment plan that it will not offer to repay PLUS loans under its student loan repayment program.
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  • Yes.  All “highly qualified” personnel, regardless of job series, including Senior Executive Service members, Federal Wage System employees, and employees covered by administratively determined pay systems, are eligible unless specifically excluded by law or regulation.
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  • The law does not require that a candidate or employee earn a degree, diploma, or certificate to be eligible for a student loan repayment benefit.  However, an agency may require a degree, diploma, or certificate as part of its individual agency plan.  Agencies are encouraged to tailor their plans to fit their specific needs.
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  • The student loan repayment authority itself does not preclude payments for employees who have defaulted on their student loans.  However, agencies may exclude them by so specifying in their agency plans.
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