Careers App
Foreign Service Specialist Benefits

Allowances and Incentives

There are five general types of allowances and incentives: foreign travel per diem allowances, cost of living allowances, recruitment and retention incentives, quarters allowances, and other allowances. For detailed information, please click here.

Annual Leave

Vacation/Personal Leave; maximum ceiling or limitation of accrual is 30 days per leave year for employees assigned to the US; maximum ceiling or limitation of accrual is 45 days per leave year for employees assigned overseas.

  • 4 hours per pay period or 13 days per leave year for less than 3 years of federal service
  • 6 hours per pay period or 20 days per leave year after 3 years of federal service but less than 15 years
  • 8 hours per pay period or 26 days per leave year after 15 years of federal service
Child Care Center

The Department sponsors two on-site child care centers: Columbia Plaza or State Department Annex-1, across the street from the Harry S. Truman Building between 21st and 23rd Streets NW in Washington, D.C., and the Foreign Service Institute's Child Care Center on-campus in Arlington, VA. Both centers provide excellent curriculum-based programs for infants through pre-school and the "Diplotots" Center, located at SA-1, also offers kindergarten.

Child Care Subsidy Program

A child care subsidy program is available to U.S.-based Department employees meeting certain criteria. This independent program provides child care subsidy assistance for employees whose total family income does not exceed $68,000. Families who meet this and other legislative requirements may be able to receive from 20% to 50% of their total child care expenses.

Credit Union and Fitness Facility

and a host of other on-site services such as a U.S. Post Office barber/beauty shops, dry cleaner and gift/card shops at Main State.

Employee Consultation Service

Staffed by licensed, clinical social workers to provide counseling and referrals for personal and family concerns.

Employee Recreation Association

Discount tickets to movies and sporting events.

Family Medical Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides Federal employees with an entitlement of up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the following purposes:

  • The birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of the newborn
  • The placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care
  • The care of a child, spouse or parent of the employee with a serious health condition
  • A serious health condition of the employee that makes an employee unable to perform the major functions of the job
Health Benefit Plans

Choice of extensive array of Federal Employment Health Benefit Plans, with costs shared by the Government. Employees are eligible to enroll in a wide variety of health insurance plans, including fee-for-service plans and health maintenance organizations. The employee's portion is paid through payroll deductions.


A counseling, education and referral service to help employees manage personal and professional responsibilities (e.g., adoption, adult care).

Life Insurance

Foreign Service Specialists are eligible to participate in the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance plan (FEGLI). The FEGLI plan offers low rates that are paid through payroll deductions. The U.S. Government pays one-third of the cost of this insurance.

Participation in the FEGLI plan is voluntary. The plan is intended as a form of immediate protection against financial hardship or loss in the event of death. It is not offered as a form of term life insurance with a cash value, such as might be purchased through private insurance agents.

Long Term Care Insurance

Long Term Care Insurance is offered and carries into your retirement.

Salary Determination for Foreign Service Specialists

For the current FS pay schedule, click here.

Foreign Service Specialist career candidates enter the Foreign Service at the appropriate entry grade listed in the specific Specialist Vacancy Announcement. The salary awarded within the grade (step) is determined based on education and work experience.

Paid Holidays
  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday in January)
  • Washington's Birthday (Third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (First Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

(In addition to the above holidays, the U.S. Government also observes some local holidays celebrated at overseas posts of assignment.)

Sick Leave

Accrued at a rate of 4 hours per pay period, 13 days per leave year

Student Loan Repayment Program

Legislation authorizes agencies to establish loan repayment programs in order to assist in the recruitment and retention of high qualified employees. The Department's SLRP is not available for all employees with student loan debt but it is available to Civil Service employees encumbering specific mission critical occupational series positions and Foreign Service employees assigned to extreme hardship and/or danger pay eligible overseas postings. Since the program was launched in 2002, more than 2700 employees have benefited from this once-a-year-incentive payment made directly to employee lenders. Annual gross lump sum payments have ranged from $4600 to $8500 per qualifying employee, depending on agency funding availability. An initial three-year service commitment is also required for those qualifying for the first time.

Queries regarding the specifics of the Student Loan Repayment Program may be directed to the Department at A response will be forthcoming within two (2) business days.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (Student Loan Forgiveness)

This legislation is being administered by the U.S. Department of Education's Direct Loans. Individuals interested in a career in public service, who also have significant federally insured student loan debt, may be interested in researching eligibility at It is possible for employees to qualify for the Department's SLRP and after ten years of specific public service have the balance of their federally insured loan(s) forgiven.

Ten Paid Holidays Per Year

(In addition to the above holidays, the U.S. Government also observes some local holidays celebrated at overseas posts of assignment.)

Thrift Savings Plan (equivalent to 401(k) with Government matching)

Foreign Service Specialists may participate in the Thrift Savings Plan, a long-term savings and investment program for federal employees designed to provide retirement income.

Voluntary Leave Transfer Program

A federal program that enables one federal civilian employee to transfer annual leave to another federal employee who faces a personal medical emergency or a medical emergency of a family member.