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April 23, 2008
In Reply Refer To:
1400-500 (WO730) P

Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-116
Expires: 09/30/09
Assistant Directors, State and Center Directors
Attn:  Human Resources Officers
Assistant Director, Human Capital Management
Matching Funds for the Student Loan Repayment Benefit

Program Area: Human Resource Management

Purpose:  This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides guidance on requesting matching funds for student loan repayment benefits from Washington Office, Division of Recruitment, Retention, and Talent Management (WO 730).

Policy/Actions: As directed in BLM Manual, Section 1400-550, Pay Administration, BLM may repay all or a part of any outstanding federally insured student loan in order to recruit or retain highly qualified employees. The maximum amount that an employee may be offered is $10,000 per calendar year and a lifetime total of $60,000 per employee.  

Currently, State, Center, and Washington Offices are responsible for the cost of student loan repayment benefits which may contribute to the limited use of this recruitment and retention incentive in the BLM.   To increase the use of this effective incentive, WO 730 has committed resources to provide matching funds to BLM offices that have difficulty recruiting and retaining employees in positions that are hard-to-fill or in remote locations.  
Request for Matching Funds

1.  State, Center, and Washington Offices will continue to submit requests for student loan repayment benefits to the Assistant Director (AD), Human Capital Management for approval, as outlined in BLM Manual Section 1400-550. The written justification must include a clearly-stated request for matching funds.

2. After approval, WO 730 will send a funding memorandum that includes the first fiscal year’s cost account number and defines the procedure for requesting a cost account number for remaining fiscal years.

Terms of Matching Funds

1. Each fiscal year, the WO 730 will authorize matching funds for the first ten employees in hard-to-fill positions or in remote locations who are newly approved for student loan repayment benefits and whose office requests matching funds.

2. The WO 730 will match annual student loan repayment disbursements dollar-for-dollar, not to exceed $5,000 in one fiscal year.

3. The WO 730 will allocate matching funds for student loan repayment disbursements for up to three consecutive fiscal years.

4. State, Center, and Washington Offices will inform the WO 730 of any changes in the service agreement and in the employee’s employment status with the BLM.   

Timeframe:  This IM is effective immediately.

Budget Impact:  No significant budget impact is anticipated.  

Background: At their meeting in January, the ELT identified the need to clearly focus on the BLM’s changing workforce and the challenges posed by the potential retirement bubble that will occur over the next decade. Given current and projected workforce trends, BLM is presented with the opportunity to enhance our current workforce recruitment and retention efforts to meet that challenge. Many agencies are making greater use of the Student Loan Repayment Program to create greater incentives for taking a position and staying.  BLM has used this program on a limited basis, but it would be advantageous to expand the use of the program as BLM competes against other agencies for candidates.
For more information on the student loan repayment benefit and additional guidance and regulations, visit the Office of Personnel’s website,http://www.opm.gov/oca/PAY/StudentLoan/index.asp.  

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  BLM Manual, Section 1400-550, Rel. 1-1691. 

Coordination:  AD, Human Capital Management and ELT.

Contact:  For questions regarding matching funds for student loan repayment benefits, contact Sylvia R. Felder, Division Manager, Recruitment, Retention and Talent Management, at 202-254-3314 or Sylvia_R_Felder@blm.gov.

Signed by:                                                        Authenticated
Janine Velasco                                                  Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                             Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Human Capital Management

Last updated: 10-21-2009