Federal agencies increased their spending on student loan repayments for employees by 22 percent in 2008, and the incentives were widely used for recruiting and retaining information technology workers, according to a new report by the Office of Personnel Management.
The report, released on Wednesday, found that 35 federal agencies provided 6,789 employees with $51.6 million in student loan repayments in calendar year 2008, of which information technology management positions represented 2.6 percent of total recipients. But the top jobs receiving the incentives were criminal investigators, attorneys, intelligence analysts and nurses, according to the report.
By law, agencies may make payments to a loan holder of up to $10,000 per year, with a maximum payout of $60,000. In return, employees must sign a service agreement to remain with the agency for at least three years. The program is designed to help agencies recruit and retain top talent, especially as a large number of senior employees become eligible for retirement over the next few years.
The five agencies making the most use of the benefit last year were the Justice, Defense, and State departments, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Government Accountability Office. The Environmental Protection Agency noted in the report that the student loan repayments have made its efforts to recruit individuals with master's degree in environmental sciences, analysis and information technology much more successful.