Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $179,023)
In an effort to meet the increased needs of the State’s Attorney and Public Defenders offices in the State of Illinois, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is providing the resources for the administration of the John R. Justice Program (JRJ). ISAC provides for the payment of eligible educational loans (both Federal Family Education Loan Program [FFELP] and Federal Direct Loans) for state and federal public defenders and state prosecutors who agree to remain employed as public defenders and prosecutors for at least three years. The annual awards to qualified defenders and prosecutors are subject to sufficient annual appropriation by the federal government, up to an aggregate total of $60,000, to repay their student loan debt.
Illinois is following a model that centralizes the administration of the program, thereby allowing a consistent and standard approach statewide. With this model, applicants apply directly to ISAC (the governor-designated state administering agency), which decides, based on the programmatic criteria set forth by the U.S. Department of Justice and developed by an Advisory Committee, which applicants should receive funding.
Historically, the demand for the program exceeds the funding level; therefore a formula has been designed to distribute awards to applicants with the least ability to repay their student loans within each of the five appellate districts statewide. There is an additional statewide category for prosecutors. Although the law permits an annual maximum award of $10,000, in order to serve as many recipients as possible, it was agreed by the Advisory Committee that the number of awards made through this program, as well as the individual dollar amount awarded, is subject to sufficient annual appropriation by the federal government.