Overpayment FAQs


What are my rights?
An individual is entitled to legal or other representation in pursuing a waiver and/or pre-offset hearing request. Bargaining unit employees are also entitled to union representation.

An individual filing a request for waiver and/or a pre-offset hearing request has the right to:

  1. Inspect and copy documents or government records related to the debt described in the notice, if the documents were not attached to the notice;
  2. Enter into a written voluntary repayment agreement, under terms satisfactory to the Department, to establish a schedule for the repayment of your debt; and
  3. Receive a prompt refund, unless otherwise provided by law, of amounts paid or already deducted that are waived by these proceedings.

What if I do not understand the Bill of Collection or why I owe a debt?
If you do not understand the Bill of Collection, contact the Department’s Human Resources Services office, to get clarification of the alleged debt and to request any documents or government records related to the debt. You may contact Human Resources’ Debt Management Coordinator at 202-453-6529.

Documents such as time and attendance sheets, and leave slips may be obtained from your office’s timekeeper. Leave and Earning Statements are available on the Department’s Employee Express System.

What if I wish to repay the debt?
If you are a current employee and wish to repay the debt, you may contact Human Resources’ Debt Management Coordinator, Sebrina Bradford at 202-453-6529.

If you are a former employee and wish to repay the debt, you may contact the Office of the Chief Financial Officer at 202-245-8290.

When should I request a waiver?
A debtor may file a waiver to mitigate part or all of an overpayment where there is no claim of fraud or misrepresentation in connection with the overpayment, and where granting the request is not contrary to the best interests of the United States or otherwise against equity and good conscience.

A waiver proceeding reviews Respondent’s arguments supporting a request that a portion or the entire overpayment should be waived. In a waiver proceeding, the debtor acknowledges the validity of the debt, but argues that he or she should not be required to repay the debt on the basis of the circumstances of the debt, and that there is no indication of fraud, misrepresentation, fault, or lack of good faith by Respondent or anyone else having an interest in obtaining a waiver of the claim. A waiver proceeding will be based upon the written record.

How do I file a request for a waiver?
All alleged debtors must submit their requests for waiver and/or a pre-offset hearing in writing to OHA within 15 calendar days of the receipt of the Department’s initial notification letter.
The request for a waiver must:

  1. Be in writing;
  2. Explain the circumstances of the overpayment to the best of your knowledge;
  3. State why you believe a waiver should be granted;
  4. Indicate what steps, if any, you took to bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate official or supervisor and the agency’s response;
  5. Fully identify and explain with reasonable specificity all the facts, documents, and sworn statements, if any, you believe support your position.

When should I request an offset hearing?
A pre-offset hearing is a proceeding presided over by an Administrative Law Judge to determine the existence or amount of the debt and/or the individual’s ability to pay the debt. A pre-offset hearing routinely will be conducted based upon the written record; however, in rare circumstances, the hearing will be conducted in person.

A pre-offset hearing request may be requested by an employee for a review of the:

  1. Existence of the debt;
  2. Amount of the overpayment; or
  3. Establishment of an involuntary repayment schedule due to financial hardship.

How do I file a request for a pre-offset hearing?

The request for a hearing must:

  1. Be in writing;
  2. State why the employee contests the existence or amount of the overpayment; and/or
  3. Claim that the involuntary repayment schedule will cause extreme financial hardship;
  4. Include all documents on which the employee is relying, and any document, which is a statement of an individual, must be in the form of an affidavit.

Where do I file my request for a waiver and/or an offset hearing?

An alleged debtor must submit his or her request for either or both types of hearings in writing, via U.S. Mail, private courier, or email to the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

Go Here to Get OHA’s Mailing Addresses

Facsimile transmission by the 15th day will meet the timeliness requirement. Any document electronically filed using facsimile transmission shall be considered filed with OHA on the date and time it is sucessfully received. Documents filed up until and including midnight will be recorded as received on that date.

Submissions sent by facsimile transmission should not exceed fifteen (15) pages. The assigned waiver official or hearing official has discretion as to whether to allow longer filings. Upon request, the assigned waiver official or hearing official may permit facsimile transmissions exceeding 15 pages.

All submissions mailed via the U.S. Postal Service should be sent to the address listed immediately below. It is incumbent upon the individual/representative filing the submission to ensure that the addressee receives any correspondence sent via U.S. Mail.

Office of Hearings & Appeals
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-4616

All submissions filed via hand delivery, private messenger, or other private carrier, should be delivered to the following address:

Office of Hearings & Appeals
U.S. Department of Education
550 12th Street, SW
10th Floor
Washington, DC 20202

All individuals seeking either a waiver or an offset hearing are advised that knowingly false or frivolous statements, representations, or evidence may subject the employee to disciplinary procedures, penalties under the False Claims Act, and/or criminal penalties as provided under applicable statutes or regulations.