Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

General Discussion for SMART Scholarship Recipients

Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby Maximus » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:16 pm

Here's an interesting scenario...not sure other recipients will have much insight, but perhaps Larry the DoD insider can give his thoughts...

I am one of "those" who left the SMART program even before starting Phase 2. I accept that I racked up a lot of debt, and I, as others on here, have heard nothing from the SMART program for the past 2.5 years about repayment. Based on the other thread about this topic, perhaps there is some stirring within the DoD to get this process going soon, but I'm not holding my breath.

Well, for a variety of reasons, after working at a university since 2012, I am now entertaining a job offer from my original SF, even within the same group at AFRL that I interned with. My primary reasons for leaving the program were related to personal family issues, but those have since resolved, and thus I am now looking to return to AFRL. I tried contacting the SMART Program folks about whether or not I can rejoin the program now, thus alleviating my debt if I agree to the original service terms. But, to no surprise, I have not received a response. It should be a no-brainer for them to allow me to fulfill my original service terms, but I've been around long enough to know that logic and reason often find no place in government bureaucracy. So, before signing on with the SF, I'd like to have some written assurance that this would satisfy my debt.

So, I'm curious...has anyone else here tried to re-join the program after being discharged? I imagine that once DFAS starts issuing bills, I may not be the only one interested in "re-enlisting" for their due service.
Last edited by Maximus on Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Maximus
 
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Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby larry » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:34 pm

You should run, not walk, and get on board at AFRL asap.

I spoke to the new SMART administrator the other day about this potential scenario. There is nothing in the statute that would preclude you from making this satisfy your service. Thus, I would work to make sure that it did.

Usual caveats apply, but this is truly a no-brainer.

Send an email and get started. Report back with what they tell you.

And if you could post your first name, and what AFRL Division you are talking to I can look you up in the database.

And thanks for doing this. We do need you back in the system. No one, especially me, wants to be a jerk, but a quick view of the news shows how Congress is going after delinquent taxpayers.

Larry
larry
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby Maximus » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:45 pm

Larry -

Many thanks for the quick reply. My name's Kyle and I'm in discussion with AFRL/RVSV (Kirtland AFB). I sent an email a little over a week ago...no response. The only phone number listed on the SMART website goes to the ASEE office, and they already directed me to the NPS office (but just the email address). My mentor at AFRL also sent an email...but no clear response on his end yet either. I've also sent emails to the AF liaison, Ed Bujan...no response.

I appreciate anything you can do on your end!

Cheers!
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Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby larry » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:23 pm

Tortures me when we can't respond quickly to time sensitive questions/requests...

You've given me enough to work on.

Best
Larry
larry
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby larry » Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:30 pm

Hi Kyle,

You should have been contacted about this already (this morning) by USAF.

In your case this is easy as the USAF Lab wants to hire you. I really hope this works out!

Best
Larry
larry
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby AIM9X » Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:34 pm

Larry,

I left the program about 10 months ago and I want to go back, I contacted the SMART Office and they told me that they would not reinstate me into the program, which seems contradictory to the information provided earlier in this post. Like the user above I also had some personal issues to take care of and now I want to finish my commitment. I also contacted Ed Bujan with no reply.

I have been in contact with my supervisor at my SF (WRAFB, AFLCMC/EBHAEM) and he wants me back as well, would you be able to advise?

Thanks,
Kishen
AIM9X
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby larry » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:59 pm

Hi Kishen,

I can't tell from your post - did you finish your degree?

Larry
larry
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby AIM9X » Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:17 pm

Yes, I finished my degree and was working under the program for 1.5 years.
AIM9X
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby Larry » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:46 pm

Sounds like your old supervisor needs to start a USAJOBS action that you can apply to. He shouldn't wait for the SMART Program Office on this as it is a USAF decision.

If he can hire you, you should apply for the position. If you win the competition, you should accept the position.

Best
Larry

PS: I will follow up on this.
Larry
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby AIM9X » Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:49 pm

Thanks Larry, I will follow up with him.
AIM9X
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby larry » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:08 am

Hi Kishen,

I looked into your situation. I highly recommend applying for a position as the USAF folks know your situation well.

There is no gurantee that you'll get a job (you need to compete), but based on your backstory, I think it's important that you work hard and finish your committment.

Good luck!
Larry
larry
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby Maximus » Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:27 pm

Larry,

Thanks for looking into things for me. Things are in motion now...

I probably speak for many on this forum when I say thank you for taking the time to respond to questions and concerns here. Having someone on the inside who is not afraid of engaging publicly and being candid is a much needed breath of fresh air compared to many government machinations that lack transparency these days.

All the best,

Kyle
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Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby larry » Wed Oct 08, 2014 8:12 pm

Glad it's working and things are moving forward.

Those that know me all agree that I can't stand by and watch...

ATB
Larry
larry
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby concerned_SMART » Sun Nov 02, 2014 3:07 pm

Hi to everyone,

I was selected to be a part of a service and was only offered a furloughed job at the time of graduation (2013 graduate with 1 year service).

I turned down the job, and went to a private company for a year. In June of this year, I accepted a job with another federal agency that participates in SMART. Upon accepting that job, I was told by management there that if SMART or anyone contacted me with regards to repayment that they would figure out how to take care of it based on any information I receive.

I would like to be proactive and try and get my service requirement taken care of, but the SMART office only responds and tells me that I am no longer a part of the program and that they will not communicate with me. Any advice or contact information would be much appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby Larry » Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:25 pm

I took 6 days of unpaid leave last year which was one of the finest examples of ballistic podiatry I have ever seen the Federal Government perform. We took the sacred trust of "lower salary, but always employed" and busted it. It will take many years to put that in the rearview mirror.

I spoke to Chris, the lady who is now actively managing the SMART program on Friday. She has instructed her staff to monitor this forum, but they'll be following up via official channels (email for now, but soon a government forum). She has reviewed the standing orders of the SMART Program employees and is revising them to require timely feedback and responses.

I expect this to have a positive impact on the students.

Given that you are working for DOD, I'd get a SF-50, wipe out the SSN, create a .pdf and try re-sending it to the SMART office. That will show them you are back in the system. I think you'll get a response.

Dropping out in Phase 1 would (IMHO) require one to re-apply for the SMART program. Trying to get credit for federal employment as part of Phase 2 would seem to just be book keeping by the SPO. I think you'll be fine.

I really hope it's a positive experience. My 6 years at NIH, 25 years at NRL, and my most recent tours have all been very fulfilling. I wouldn't trade them for working anywhere else!
Larry
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby hmmmm » Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:26 pm

Thank you Larry, you are an honorable man for providing feedback. The one saving grace about the SMART scholarship (if you leave early) is you can declare bankruptcy after 5 years.
hmmmm
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby DontThinkSo » Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:16 pm

hmmmmm...I wouldn't count on bankruptcy discharging any debt from the SMART scholarship. I've looked into it. Any money that the federal government gives for purposes of education are all counted the same as student loans...thus, none are discharged in any kind of bankruptcy.

The only way I can tell that you could possibly get your debt discharged would be through a direct intervention of the Sec. of Defense or your service secretary (per the SMART rules). Maybe you have a big wig uncle with top level connections?
DontThinkSo
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby hmmmm » Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:26 pm

Look at US Code Title 10.
§ 2192a. Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Defense Education Program
(a) REQUIREMENT FOR PROGRAM.—The Secretary of Defense shall carry out a program to provide financial assistance for education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology skills and disciplines that, as determined by the Secretary, are critical to the national security functions of the Department of Defense and are needed in the Department of Defense workforce.

(e) REFUND FOR PERIOD OF UNSERVED OBLIGATED SERVICE.—
(1)
(A) A participant in the program under this section who is not an employee of the Department of Defense and who voluntarily fails to complete the educational program for which financial assistance has been provided under this section, or fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense, shall refund to the United States an appropriate amount, as determined by the Secretary.
(B) A participant in the program under this section who is an employee of the Department of Defense and who—
(i) voluntarily fails to complete the educational program for which financial assistance has been provided, or fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary; or
(ii) before completion of the period of obligated service required of such participant—
(I) voluntarily terminates such participant’s employment with the Department; or
(II) is removed from such participant’s employment with the Department on the basis of misconduct, shall refund the United States an appropriate amount, as determined by the Secretary.
(2) An obligation to reimburse the United States imposed under paragraph (1) is for all purposes a debt owed to the United States.
(3) The Secretary of Defense may waive, in whole or in part, a refund required under paragraph (1) if the Secretary determines that recovery would be against equity and good conscience or would be contrary to the best interests of the United States.
(4) A discharge in bankruptcy under title 11 that is entered less than five years after the termination of an agreement under this section does not discharge the person signing such agreement from a debt arising under such agreement or under this subsection.
hmmmm
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby hmmmm » Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:36 pm

Below is a link to a paper entitled "An Empirical Assessment of Student Loan Discharges and the Undue Hardship Standard."
It is a good read.
http://getoutofdebt.org/wp-content/uplo ... 894445.pdf
hmmmm
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby DontThinkSo » Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:37 pm

Well, I was not aware of bullet #4 above about the 5 year period. BUT, all that says is that you can be certain that your debt will not be discharged if filing bankruptcy within the first 5 years. It DOES NOT say that you have any guarantee of getting it discharged after 5 years. That will still be left up to the bankruptcy judge. And, unless you have a serious hardship that has prevented you from working and making payments on the debt, I would not count on getting it wiped from your slate. The fact that you got a SMART scholarship would indicate that you're an engineer or scientist of some variety, meaning you likely have the potential to make a good salary doing something. I haven't researched it thoroughly, but I'd be willing to bet that 99.9% of student loans (or other gov't eductation debts) that actually DO get discharged are for people who ended up not getting a degree, or who chose to go to some elite private school for a degree in [Insert Any Humanities Major Here], and thus are likely not making much money, if they have a job at all. Or, of course, for those who have a legitimate medical or other hardship that clearly show they have no way of paying back the debt over their lifetime.

Bottom line...I would personally never recommend anyone hold out hope of discharging the SMART debt in bankruptcy. But, if you really like spending endless hours developing an argument for a judge that may or may not work out, then go for it!
DontThinkSo
 

Re: Left Before Phase 2, Want Back In...

Postby hmmmmm » Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:27 pm

Let me be clear, I don't suggest people leave the SMART scholarship early.
However, I disagree regarding your analysis of the chances being negligible for removing debt in bankruptcy court.
You need to provide evidence if you want this claim to be taken more seriously.
According to the paper the chances are actually non-negligible, and a medical condition is not required but helps. You are correct that there is no guarantee that debt can be discharged in bankruptcy court. I agree with your bottom line, don't leave.
hmmmmm
 


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