Agencies dish out more in student loan repayments

Karen Roach/Shutterstock.com

The number of federal employees receiving student loan repayment benefits increased by 34 percent between 2009 and 2010, a new report from the Office of Personnel Management shows.

In an analysis of calendar year 2010 reports, OPM found that federal agencies provided more than 11,000 employees a total of $85.7 million in student loan repayments. That represents a 38 percent increase in overall spending compared to 2009. The average recipient received $7,542 in 2010.

Many agencies use student loan repayment programs as a recruitment incentive, particularly as more and more federal employees become retirement eligible, leaving workforce gaps. Agencies must submit annual reports on their repayment programs in an effort to ensure those funds are used in the most cost-effective way.

“It is important for agencies to closely monitor the cost of using discretionary tools such as student loan repayments,” OPM Director John Berry said in a letter accompanying the report to Congress. "This is especially true during periods of strained fiscal resources such as the one we are currently enduring.”

Thirty-six federal agencies submitted responses to OPM’s request for calendar year 2010 information; OPM followed up with the agencies with the largest student loan repayment programs -- the Defense, Justice and State departments -- asking for additional information about how they used the loan repayments as recruitment incentives.

According to the report, Defense increased its investment in student loan repayments by $15.5 million between 2009 and 2010. The department retained 94 percent of benefit recipients for three years or longer.

“These metrics indicate the value of student loan repayment benefits in helping DoD to compete with private sector employers for top talent in key occupations,” the report said.

Justice and State achieved similar retention results. Justice told OPM that its student loan repayment spending represents “merely a fraction” of its total appropriated budget for employee salaries and the incentive “is used judiciously and for its intended purposes.” The State Department reported that it has long used the incentive to help recruit for specific Foreign Service posts, but it increased its spending on the repayments by $2.4 million between 2009 and 2010, a choice driven by a hiring initiative to increase the size of the Foreign Service by 25 percent over a three-year period.

“The incentive strongly influenced the post-bid selection of Foreign Service employees and, for many considering public service, the program is the reason they opted for a career with [State],” OPM noted.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.