1/21/15: In yesterday’s edition of SEC Today, the SEC’s Office of Human Resources (“OHR”) provided an update concerning certain enhancements to the union-negotiated Student Loan Repayment Program (“SLRP”) at the SEC including: (i) allowing newer “probationary” employees to participate in the program immediately upon being hired; (ii) a new “rolling application” process that will allow employees to apply anytime during the year, commencing this April; and (iii) a new option to receive regular monthly or bi-weekly disbursements under the SLRP rather than a single lump sum payment, which can be worth thousands of dollars a year to participants in the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program (“PSLFP”). NTEU union leadership would like to take this opportunity to thank Dan Barry of the Boston Regional Office for making all of these changes happen.
Indeed, as Senior Counsel to the union at the SEC, Mr. Barry took the laboring oar in negotiations with the SEC last year that included the new rolling application process as well as permitting probationary employees to participate in the SLRP.
Mr. Barry also serves at the chairman of the Labor Team on the Student Loan Repayment Program Advisory Committee established pursuant to Collective Bargaining Agreement Article 25, Section 1. In that capacity, in the past several months he identified and corrected a major problem with the SLRP for SEC employees enrolled in the PSLFP, who can have their remaining student loan debt eliminated after they have made 120 payments on their loans over ten years.
The SEC’s lump sum SLRP payment method operated to the great disadvantage of PSLFP enrollees because even a $10,000 pre-tax disbursement would count as just one monthly payment and thus only be worth the cost of that single payment for them. Affected PSLFP employees who complained to OHR were told that the system could not be modified to address this issue.
Beginning last September, Mr. Barry commenced discussions with OHR to address the problem. He pointed out that several other federal agencies already provided a monthly or bi-weekly SLRP payment option to their employees, thus proving that SLRP disbursement systems could be configured to make payments in this manner. He urged OHR to do the same. Finally, in late November, OHR relented and agreed to offer a monthly or bi-weekly payment option to SEC employees, which will enable these employees to realize the full value of their SLRP benefit.
“I am really glad that we have someone like Dan Barry working on student loan issues for SEC employees,” NTEU Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman remarked this morning. “In recent years, OHR has tried repeatedly to cut back on this important retention program during our CBA negotiations and in budget discussions,” he added. “We have successfully pushed back, even in recent discussions about the FY 2015 SLRP budget, which we persuaded the agency to fully fund. Thanks to the efforts of people like Dan, we have been able to both protect and improve important programs like the Student Loan Repayment Program.”
For a history of the union-negotiated SLRP at the SEC, click here.