Government Student Loan Repayment Assistance Programs
Federal and state government employees and members of the U.S. Armed Forces may be eligible for government-sponsored student loan repayment assistance programs (LRAP). This is a great way to cut down on debt after college.
Federal agencies can repay federal student loans for highly qualified employees under the authority of 5 USC 5379 and the regulations at 5 CFR 537. Congressional staffers are also eligible for the program. (Members of Congress and certain political appointees are excluded.)
Annual payments are capped at $10,000 and cumulative payments are capped at $60,000. Some federal agencies, however, have lower limits. Employees must agree to remain an employee of the federal agency for at least three years or the full amount of the loan repayment benefits received must be repaid to the federal agency.
About 10,000 federal employees receive an average of about $7,000 a year in student loan repayment assistance benefits. The top five federal agencies that provide student loan repayment benefits are the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
General information is available through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), including an annual report to Congress.
Enlisted active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces might be eligible for college loan repayments of up to $65,000 in federal student loans. The Army and Navy student loan repayment programs are more generous than the Air Force program. The loan repayment must be specified in the enlistment contract instead of enrollment in the Montgomery GI Bill. The servicemember must satisfy several other criteria, such as scoring 50 or more on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
The U.S. Department of Justice provides the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program for state prosecutors and public defenders. Participants can receive up to $10,000 per year and $60,000 total to repay federal student loans not in default. A 3-year commitment is required. This LRAP is designed to be tax-free. The American Bar Association (ABA) has compiled a list of state loan repayment assistance programs, mostly for public interest law.