Student Loan Repayment 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 loan repayment benefits to:
- Temporary employees who are serving on appointments leading to conversion to term or permanent appointments;
- Term employees with at least 3 years left on their appointment;
- Permanent employees (including part-time employees); and
- Employees serving on excepted appointments with conversion to term, career, or career conditional appointments (including, but not limited to, Career Intern or Presidential Management Intern appointments).
Are employees not covered by the General Schedule (GS) pay system eligible for student loan repayment benefits?
Yes. The Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-398) amended 5 U.S.C. 5379 to remove the limitation that only employees covered by the GS pay system were eligible for student loan repayment benefits. 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.Parent PLUS Loan Eligibility
If the employee has a PLUS loan for his or her child, the employee would be eligible. 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.Employees Who Have Defaulted on Their Student Loans
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.Types of Academic Degrees and/or Levels Covered
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.Is a Degree Required Prior to Receiving the Benefit?
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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