Leave without pay to complete college


Q. Since the federal government is in sequestration and I am looking at five to seven days of furlough during the summer, I would like to finish my college education, which would be one year of leave without pay from federal service. Is LWOP allowed for this with the federal government, and what type of separation is this referred to as? Can I collect unemployment benefits due to this type of separation? I am a GS-5 with 4½  years of employment with the federal government.

A. Whether you’d be granted LWOP would be up to your agency. If they considered that your education would be of value to them, they might. And if they thought it was very valuable to them, they might even share in the costs. As for unemployment benefits, the answer is no. You would be taking LWOP for educational purposes; you wouldn’t be losing your job, which is a prerequisite for unemployment compensation.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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