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Washington, D.C. - At a recent meeting with student loan repayment program managers from executive departments and agencies, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) encouraged agencies to use the Federal student loan repayment program as a tool to manage their workforce strategically and develop a budget plan for using recruitment and retention incentives, including student loan repayments. OPM held the forum to discuss recommendations made in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report highlighting what OPM can do to assist agencies in administering the Federal student loan repayment program.
This message is consistent with the annual report OPM issued on this program earlier this year, which showed that 28 federal agencies provided 2,945 employees with a total of more than $16.4 million in student loan repayment benefits during FY 2004.
"Agencies are utilizing the student loan repayment program more than they have in the past, but there is still more that can be done," OPM Director Linda M. Springer said. "The program is an important component of the federal government's efforts to offer competitive incentives, and we encourage agencies to use it as a recruitment tool to attract top notch talent into the civil service."
Under 5 U.S.C. 5379, federal agencies may agree to repay as much as $10,000 for an employee in a calendar year and up to an aggregate maximum of $60,000 for any one employee. In return, the employee must sign a service agreement to remain in the service of the paying agency for a period of at least three years. The law also requires agencies to report annually to OPM on their use of the student loan repayment program during the previous fiscal year.
OPM's annual report to Congress showed a significant increase in the use of the student loan repayment program over the last three fiscal years. Overall, federal agencies invested 79 percent more funding in the program during FY 2004 than in FY 2003. When compared to FY 2002, the program's first full fiscal year, agencies invested more than five times as much funding in student loan repayments.
More information on the federal student loan repayment program, including the complete annual report to Congress, can be viewed at www.opm.gov/oca/PAY/StudentLoan/index.asp.
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.