Question: Isn’t there a program in which your agency helps you repay student loans? No one here seems to know about it.

Answer: The student loan repayment program, although not well-known, is one of several incentives that agencies can use to recruit and retain employees. They may pay up to $10,000 a year, up to $60,000 lifetime, for their employees to repay many of the most common types of student loans. The money is taxable, though, and recipients must agree to continue working for the agency for three years or else pay it back.

Of the 2.1 million executive branch employees apart from the U.S. Postal Service and intelligence agencies, fewer than 10,000 received such payments in 2016, worth a total of about $72 million. Both the number of employees and the amount received were up, compared with other recent years, but they remain below the levels of 2010-2012.

It helps to work at certain agencies and in certain jobs. The Defense Department uses the authority the most, followed by the Justice and State departments. Those three account for more than half of the offers and dollar value, with the rest spread across 31 other agencies. By occupation, it’s used most often for engineers, special agents, intelligence analysts, foreign affairs specialists and attorney-advisers.