Leaving phase II / transfer

General Discussion for SMART Scholarship Recipients

Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Rmm2723 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:40 pm

Has anyone left phase II? If so, did you ever actually have to pay? I am thinking of transferring to a new facility that is under a different branch of the DOD. I still think I owe the government due to them paying for school but my current SF is pretty bad and I've found a new position I prefer. SMART doesn't allow you to request transfers and says you must perform phase II at your SF. I was cohort 2008 and have been in phase II over a year but still have 2 more left. More info: My current SF is over full and has offered transfers to certain AF bases that need more EEs but they are all worse locations. Those transfers were offered to all of us, not just me in SMART.
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Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:44 pm

I've known someone who transferred before Phase II was over, and it was partially initiated by the student.

The way it worked is this: the scholar wrote his CA and told him/her that he didn't feel the current SF was the best fit for him and shared with the CA some of his daily activities. The SMART program discussed the issue and the service liasion talked with the SMART mentor about the issue. The mentor agreed that the facility was ill-equipped to handle the person. The CA then asked the scholar "where would you like to work?" The scholar had to pretty much cold-interview at another facility and open his own doors, but once he was told he could have a job at the second facility if he wanted, the SMART program allowed him to transfer just fine.

The key to the whole issue is the SMART program is run by folks who don't want to do your work for you, but will allow you to make a change that betters your career and utilizes your skillset more, provided your current facility doesn't have any issues with you moving on. You will need to scout out your future facility, contact them, present yourself, and basically make sure the future facility is WILLING and ABLE to hire you before you will be given a 'yes' answer.

It sounds like your current facility is fine with you leaving, in which case, you may as well seek a transfer. You have very little harm in sharing what you've shared here with your CA. If you want to leave the AF and go to the Army or Navy, you may have to work out all the details yourself (find a position, interview, get a job offer) before SMART allows it.

Long story short: if a facility would like to get rid of a student and the student has found placement elsewhere in the DoD, the SMART Program is very unlikely to have a problem with it.
Guest
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest73 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:22 am

Anyone left mid phase II or before? Did you actually get billed ever?
Guest73
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:04 pm

I left before starting Phase II. I changed my degree and consequently, my SF said they didn't want me anymore. SMART also claims that there is not a single job within all of the DoD that I could perform with my MS degree. I was also told that it would be hard to find me a new SF since I was a 'failure'. Really??? Graduating with a Masters degree and a 3.94 GPA really sounds like a failure, no?

SMART claims that I will owe them every last cent back, but it will be an undetermined amount of time before they contact me with the details (I'm approaching a year in waiting, but apparently there are people who have been in this state of limbo since 2005 when the program first started.) The latter is due to the SMART Program not having a system in place for dealing with participants who are unable to complete their service for whatever reason: change of degree and loss of SF (my case), bad grades, or simply wanting out. Guess only time will tell what will happen. At least now I am out of the program I am happy.

If anyone else is in this same boat, I would love to hear how the experience has been for you.
Guest
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest tk » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:19 pm

So, has anyone actually found out the terms of repayment?! I am interested in knowing what the interest rates are, and what is the payback period? Does anyone know this information? I really want to get out of this, if there is almost no interest rate I would be down in leaving as soon as my lease expires at my apartment.
Guest tk
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby 2012_UMD » Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:56 am

Guest tk wrote:So, has anyone actually found out the terms of repayment?! I am interested in knowing what the interest rates are, and what is the payback period? Does anyone know this information? I really want to get out of this, if there is almost no interest rate I would be down in leaving as soon as my lease expires at my apartment.


I seem to remember reading somewhere that they treat it like a federal stafford student loan, which currently has an interest rate of 6.8%. Remember, too, you'll be repaying your tuition plus stipend, so I hope the job your aiming for makes stupid amounts of money. Otherwise you may be paying off the loan with your social security checks ...
2012_UMD
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest tk » Sun Oct 07, 2012 4:54 pm

Time to start investing/playing the lottery....maybe a pyramid scheme :-)
Guest tk
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:19 pm

2012_UMD wrote:I seem to remember reading somewhere that they treat it like a federal stafford student loan, which currently has an interest rate of 6.8%. Remember, too, you'll be repaying your tuition plus stipend, so I hope the job your aiming for makes stupid amounts of money. Otherwise you may be paying off the loan with your social security checks ...


This is a false rumor. As stated previously, The SMART Program has yet to institute a method for paying this scholarship back. A previous poster here said that they had been waiting approximately a year. I know of SMART scholars who have been waiting multiple years for instructions on how to pay it back.

It is likely SMART will not expend the money or efforts to get a payback system in place until an inspector general comes through and orders them to. If tons of SMART scholars begin jumping ship, they will likely put it in place then. Or, they could put it in place this week. There's really no telling where their priorities lie, other than getting qualified STEM graduates into facilities that need and desperately want them.

Good luck.
Guest
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest tk » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:31 am

So for anyone who has left the program, when you withdrew did they ever present you with any terms of withdrawl?!

What did they say, did you just pretty much leave? I am so confused on how this works. If I can leave and not owe anything for at least a few years...well...hell why not.
Guest tk
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest_recip » Sun Oct 14, 2012 4:40 pm

Guest wrote:
2012_UMD wrote:I seem to remember reading somewhere that they treat it like a federal stafford student loan, which currently has an interest rate of 6.8%. Remember, too, you'll be repaying your tuition plus stipend, so I hope the job your aiming for makes stupid amounts of money. Otherwise you may be paying off the loan with your social security checks ...


This is a false rumor. As stated previously, The SMART Program has yet to institute a method for paying this scholarship back. A previous poster here said that they had been waiting approximately a year. I know of SMART scholars who have been waiting multiple years for instructions on how to pay it back.

It is likely SMART will not expend the money or efforts to get a payback system in place until an inspector general comes through and orders them to. If tons of SMART scholars begin jumping ship, they will likely put it in place then. Or, they could put it in place this week. There's really no telling where their priorities lie, other than getting qualified STEM graduates into facilities that need and desperately want them.

Good luck.


Just have to comment on that last point there, most of the people who are jumping ship are not being placed into jobs that need to be filled by STEM grads. Most of them (the ones in Acquisition) could probably be filled by just about anyone who knows how to operate MS Outlook, can take good notes at meetings and can read and write contractual documents.

I don't think jumping ship before paying it back is worth it to be honest, its just so much debt you will eventually in (and even if they take awhile to get it, you are right that some day they will end up getting it) for what ultimately ends up not being a huge part of your career (there are probably some exceptions to that statement for people who got PhDs funded...).

Anyway, just felt like letting off some thoughts and steam.
Guest_recip
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:55 pm

Guest_recip wrote:Just have to comment on that last point there, most of the people who are jumping ship are not being placed into jobs that need to be filled by STEM grads. Most of them (the ones in Acquisition) could probably be filled by just about anyone who knows how to operate MS Outlook, can take good notes at meetings and can read and write contractual documents.


This is not entirely the fault of the SMART Program. Just a miscommunication of the purpose of SMART between the SPO and the Sponsoring Facilities. The SFs think they're getting great interns. The SMART Program is likely trying to buck that stigma and focus on SFs who are seriously interested in getting qualified engineers to replace the aging workforce.

The SFs are being vetted a lot better now than previously. Like I said, the SMART Program is trying their best to get qualified STEM applicants into jobs that NEED them. The SFs are the ones who need to wake up to what level of student comes out of SMART and be prepared to give them a fulfilling career. Still trying to sell that plan.
Guest
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest_recip » Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:18 pm

Guest wrote:
Guest_recip wrote:Just have to comment on that last point there, most of the people who are jumping ship are not being placed into jobs that need to be filled by STEM grads. Most of them (the ones in Acquisition) could probably be filled by just about anyone who knows how to operate MS Outlook, can take good notes at meetings and can read and write contractual documents.


This is not entirely the fault of the SMART Program. Just a miscommunication of the purpose of SMART between the SPO and the Sponsoring Facilities. The SFs think they're getting great interns. The SMART Program is likely trying to buck that stigma and focus on SFs who are seriously interested in getting qualified engineers to replace the aging workforce.

The SFs are being vetted a lot better now than previously. Like I said, the SMART Program is trying their best to get qualified STEM applicants into jobs that NEED them. The SFs are the ones who need to wake up to what level of student comes out of SMART and be prepared to give them a fulfilling career. Still trying to sell that plan.


I get what you are saying, but I guess I'm more of contending that the DoD thinks some jobs NEED STEM, when in reality, they actually don't. And that's the case in Acquisition. You need some STEM folks to keep things in check, but the ratio of STEM to contracting folks is upside down, and so a lot of engineers (of all ages and backgrounds, not just people from the SMART program) end up doing mostly work that is not STEM-related.

My sample size is only one base so idk. But pretty much every engineer on base I think would agree that they do more contracting type work than STEM work.
Guest_recip
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby recipient99 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:03 pm

Bump.

Does anyone have any updates on experiences with negotiating leaving Phase II early?
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Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Inuyushi » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:05 pm

I left my SF two weeks early. No bill as of yet, but even if I do get a bill... it wont hurt me, it was just two weeks out of a two year commitment. Best of luck in your situation. They might get you for two years out of three though.
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Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby recipient99 » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:51 pm

Thanks for the update. It looks like in the most recent version of the handbook, they took out the section about prorating the amount owed in proportion to the length of Phase II remaining. Given this removal, I am suspecting that they are reserving the option to require payback of the entire amount of the scholarship if any of Phase II isn't completed. I've seen them do less reasonable and more unfair things than this in the past.

I'm glad to hear that you made it out of Phase II. I'd be interested to hear if you are happier with your new job.
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Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Inuyushi » Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:18 pm

Yea, they did take out the prorating part of the phase II payback, but that is not from the version that I signed to. I got email confirmation that my payback amount would be prorated.

I actually just started an engineering job three weeks ago and it's a million times better. I'm still learning the process, but atleast terms thrown around here involve words like "pressure" and "stress". I actually get to go touch what I'm working with too. I was also able to move back to my home state, so family is just a drive away rather than a flight away. All around, life is a lot lot better. If it wasn't for having two years of my life paid for during college, it wouldn't have been wort it at all, but you live and learn.
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Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guest » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:01 pm

Hey,

Would you mind sharing where you work (or at least industry?)
Guest
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Inuyushi » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:25 am

Currently working? I'm in the nuclear industry. I work on Hard Environment Qualification for replacement parts in nuclear power plants.
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Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Guesttk » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:08 am

How hard was it for you to transition to a real engineering job? I am having difficulty filling up my resume, I like to keep it updated every few months...
Guesttk
 

Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby Inuyushi » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:21 pm

How hard was it? Honestly, I got 3 phone interviews with 0 offers out of about 40 applications. The hardest part was trying to put to words what I had done and how it would transfer over to a job with them. I couldn't basically. By the way, about 30 of the 40 jobs I applied for were entry level (college grads could apply) and the other 10 were 1~2 years of experience (entry level welcome to apply).

So either way these companies were looking at a Mechanical Engineer, what they needed, who had two years experience in something totally not engineering related (I worked on a computer simulation model and excel, 0 engineering). It was an impossible sell. But this was also mainly due to the fact I was applying for a job in Texas from Maryland. The best possible job I got was from going to a secret level job fair (they do exist), where only people with a security clearance can go. But the job was for somewhere up north and I wanted a job in Texas. Luckily, my dad was working for a construction firm building Halliburton field camps, and the owner of the company was intrigued by my skill set. I got a job (that paid way better than any other job) but wasn't engineering. After 3 months, I got a job in engineering in Texas.

So had I not applied for out of state jobs and could've interviewed in person, it might not have been that hard. But it's still an awful sell trying to talk about how you didn't do anything engineering related and it's been 2 years since school, so it's all not fresh.

Hope this helps. Don't be discouraged and just settle. There are people hiring.
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Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby guestabc » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:46 am

Here is some info I received from my CA yesterday. I inquired about the details of leaving.

The total amount expended on your behalf may or may not be equal to the total amount owed. For example, the total amount expended does not take into account any time completed under your service commitment.

Also, yes, in my statement below, I used the words “…fails-to-complete” and “withdraw” as synonyms.
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Re: Leaving phase II / transfer

Postby toughdecision » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:24 am

Any new news from people who left early?

Has anyone been contacted for repayment yet?

Did you simply give 2 weeks notice at your SF and then contact SMART with your letter of withdrawl?
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