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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

https://www.bja.gov/Programs/JAG-PREA-FAQ.pdf

If, after receiving any JRJ benefit, a current JRJ beneficiary changes their state of employment, that individual will no longer be eligible to continue to receive JRJ benefits from the original award-making state. The original state should deem that individual no longer eligible to receive continued benefits and furthermore classify the individual in an exited/repayment status. Under such circumstances, the individual, if they plan to remain employed in an otherwise eligible position as a public defender or public prosecutor (albeit in a different state) for the remaining duration of their JRJ Student Loan Repayment Service Agreement, may request a waiver of repayment and/or apply for continued JRJ benefits through the designated agency in the state of their new employment; however, selection for continued JRJ benefits will not be guaranteed by the new state of employment. As of 4/3/2018

Waiver requests may be submitted via email at the dedicated mailbox: [email protected] also found on the JRJ Program page. A copy of your emailed waiver request with all supporting documents should also be mailed to the Centralized Receivables Service (CRS) if/when they make collections outreach to you. Waiver requests should include: A sworn statement, made by the recipient (requestor) under penalty of perjury, certifying and attesting to the truthfulness and accuracy of the information provided, in the form of a one-page Word document that includes an explanation for the waiver request; Attached applicable supporting documentation, including any documentation in support of the waiver request received from the state JRJ administering agency. As of 4/3/2018

The Governor-designated JRJ administering agency, by accepting this award, agrees to abide by and comport with all requirements, applicable definitions, and conditions of the authorizing statute (42 U.S.C. 3797cc-21) and any related regulations or other guidance promulgated by the Department of Justice, including, but not limited to, applicable award special conditions and has a fiduciary responsibility to administer and account for the grant award funds. Furthermore, the Governor-designated JRJ administering agency is under a continuing and ongoing obligation to self-report to BJA any material instances of noncompliance with these programmatic and statutory requirements. Each JRJ agency should complete the JRJ Verification form(s) and JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program Service Agreement on the schedule determined by BJA. Additionally, JRJ administering agencies are also required to report in the Justice Enterprise File Sharing (JEFS) system on beneficiaries in an “Exited/Repayment” status on a quarterly basis (January 30, April 30, July 30, and October 30). For more information, please refer to the JRJ Roles and Responsibilities document and JRJ Grant Student Loan Repayment Program Quick Reference for Reporting Recipients in Exited/Repayment Status on the JRJ Program page on the BJA website. As of 4/3/2018

To ensure an equitable distribution of funding and optimize the amount of funding utilized to attract and retain qualified prosecutors and public defenders, BJA, in previous non-competitive fiscal years, reduced the de minimis base award amount for states with a population equal to or less than 500,000 persons. As of 4/3/2018

The state administering agency (SAA) has a certain degree of discretion in determining an applicant’s ability to repay their loan. As indicated in the program application guidance, the SAA may (but is not required to) consider other loan obligations in the criteria used to make this assessment, and in doing so, may elect to consider the ratio of eligible loans to an applicant’s total loan debt, including consolidated loans. As of 4/3/2018

While the availability of other federal student loan repayment plans (e.g., the Income-Based Repayment [IBR], Public Service Loan Forgiveness [PSLF], and other available loan repayment assistance programs [LRAPs]) is obviously encouraged, BJA also endorses coordination by JRJ administering agencies (to the greatest extent possible) of such programs to promote the optimum benefit to the recipient. The following provides an example of how lump sum payments and monthly payments of JRJ benefits may interplay with the PSLF program and may provide an opportunity to improve coordination: It is BJA’s understanding that in order to be eligible for the PSLF Program, a borrower must make 120 “separate, monthly” payments. When a loan servicer receives a lump sum payment—which is to say, a payment in excess of what the borrower is obligated to pay for the month—the loan servicer assumes that the excess, while immediately applied to reduce outstanding interest and principal on the loan, is intended to cover future installments. When future installments are satisfied, the borrower is no longer obligated to make monthly payments for the number of months for which the installment has been fully satisfied. BJA understands that this may present two problems for individuals who receive both JRJ and PSLF benefits: The first is that the lump sum payment, while satisfying more than one month’s payment obligation, is not a “separate payment.” Therefore, it can only count as “one” PSLF payment. The second problem is that, by removing the borrower’s obligation to make future monthly payments, the borrower cannot, for those months, make a “monthly payment” in some cases—even if the borrower voluntarily remits money. The second problem can be remedied by providing application of payment instructions with the payment. Specifically, the payor/borrower could state that they do not intend to apply the excess toward future installments, which will ensure that the borrower continues to be obligated to make future payments over subsequent months. Each loan servicer should provide, on the billing statement, information regarding how the borrower/payor is to provide payment instructions. Therefore, JRJ recipients may be advised (in order to maximize the amount of credit they may receive from the PSLF Program while working in employment that also entitles them to JRJ Program benefits) to provide special payment instructions associated with their JRJ Program award. Borrowers should also be able to provide these instructions for a payment that has already been applied, provided that it is done promptly after the payment is applied. This example is provided solely for illustrative purposes and should not be construed as financial advice. All grantees and beneficiaries should independently consult with the U.S. Department of Education (and/or other sources) to learn how receipt of JRJ benefits may affect awards through the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program. Law school, state-based, and employer-based LRAPs have individual policies regarding the effect of receiving benefits from other LRAPs (which may include JRJ benefits in some cases). Applicants are encouraged to contact the LRAP administrators of the programs in which they participate to determine whether JRJ benefits influence eligibility or award amount. As of 4/3/2018

No. As an initial matter, the JRJ loan repayment benefits may not be paid directly to a beneficiary. Per 42 U.S.C. §3797cc-21(c), payments are to be made directly to the holder of the loan (i.e., the lending institution) for the benefit of the borrower. Furthermore, the statute specifically authorizes repayment of loan obligations, not tax obligations, of a beneficiary. The beneficiary remains liable for their loan debt and for any late fees assessed by their lender. The JRJ Program is intended as a supplement to, not a substitute for, each beneficiary’s individual loan payments. As of 4/3/2018

Acting on behalf of OJP, the CRS is a collection service provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”). OJP’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) will receive the list of exiting recipient(s) in repayment status from the SAA and coordinate with BJA to determine which exiting recipients in repayment status will be refer to Treasury, via CRS. Upon making the determination, OJP’s OCFO will refer the debt to Treasury, via CRS, within 2 business days of receiving the list of exiting recipient(s) in repayment status. Debt disputes should be followed by a request for waiver as described in FAQ number 41 below. In the event such period expires without the total sum of JRJ benefits being repaid by the debtor or appropriate dispute, OJP’s OCFO will immediately refer the remaining debt to Treasury via CRS. If a debtor is not responsive within 65 days after the invoice and due process notification are mailed, CRS refers the case to Treasury Cross-Servicing (FedDebt) for further collection actions. For more information, please reference the JRJ Roles and Responsibilities document. As of 4/3/2018

Acting on behalf of OJP, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, via CRS, may arrange for a repayment plan for debtors up to 3 years. As of 4/3/2018

Once a JRJ recipient has been determined to be in a “repayment status,” such information will be communicated to BJA by the state administering agency (SAA). The Office of Justice Programs’ Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OJP’s OCFO) will receive a list of exiting recipient(s) from the SAA through the Justice Enterprise File Sharing (JEFS) secure site on a quarterly basis. OJP’s OCFO will coordinate with BJA to determine which exiting recipient(s) in repayment status will be referred to the U.S. Department of Treasury via the Centralized Receivables Service (CRS). Acting on behalf of OJP, CRS is a collection service provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. OJP’s OCFO will refer the exiting recipient(s) in repayment status, who is non-complaint in repaying the debt, within 2 business days of receiving the list of exiting recipient(s) from the SAA. Via CRS, the U.S. Department of the Treasury automatically generates and mails an invoice with due process notifications to the debtor. Via CRS, the U.S. Department of the Treasury begins to apply interest and collection fees, in addition to the principal amount owed, 30 days after the invoice and due process notification are mailed. Via CRS, the U.S. Department of the Treasury may arrange for a repayment plan for debtors up to 3 years. If the debtors are not responsive within 65 days after the invoice and due process notification are mailed, CRS refers the case to Treasury Cross-Servicing (FedDebt) for further collection actions. For more information, please reference the JRJ Roles and Responsibilities document. As of 4/3/2018

Consistent with the terms of the JRJ SLRP Service Agreement, JRJ recipients are required to inform their JRJ state administering agency of their separation from a qualified position of employment and the status of their repayment. A payment in the total amount of the JRJ student loan repayment benefits that have been made on behalf of the JRJ recipient must then be sent to the Office of Justice Programs’ Office of the Chief Financial Officer with a notation of the applicable grant number(s) from which the funds were derived, reflecting the separate amount from each grant, at the following address: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs Office of the Chief Financial Officer (Attn: Accounting Control Branch) 810 Seventh Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20531 A note should be stapled to the check with the award number(s) and amount(s) awarded from each award for which the JRJ beneficiary did not meet their term obligations. As of 4/3/2018

In the event of a breach of the service obligation agreement, a principal sum equal to the amount that the beneficiary is required to repay to the Department of Justice “shall be recoverable by the Federal Government” from the beneficiary (or the beneficiary’s estate, if applicable) by such methods as provided by law for the recovery of amounts owed to the Federal Government. The foregoing should not be understood to preclude the Federal Government from recovering any interest that may be owed in the collection of a debt. As of 4/3/2018

Pursuant to the statute (42 USC 3797cc-21(e)(2)), the period of any new term of service obligation would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Beginning in fiscal year 2013, any JRJ beneficiary who enters into a JRJSLRP Service Agreement – Secondary Term of Service (Appendix C to the JRJSLRP Program application guidance) (i.e., an additional year or years of service after the original 3-year term has been satisfied), will agree to extend the beneficiary’s term of service obligation by the period of time expressed therein, in exchange for the receipt of additional JRJ benefits. As of 4/3/2018

Through the first 3 years of the program, JRJ beneficiaries have been subject only to one JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) Service Agreement, executed at the time that the JRJ beneficiary first entered into the JRJ Program. BJA is aware that, in certain cases, some JRJ beneficiaries have been asked to, and have subsequently signed, additional JRJSLRP Service Agreements even though the date of said execution occurred within the original 3-year term of the JRJ beneficiary’s obligation of service. Such subsequent “agreements” should not be understood to extend the original term of the service obligation, but rather serve as a reaffirmation and acknowledgement of the original signed agreement and its terms and conditions. State JRJ administering agencies are now required to use Appendix D to the John R. Justice Program application guidance (“JRJSLRP Service Agreement Acknowledgment of Benefit” form) as evidence of such reaffirmation and acknowledgment. As of 4/3/2018