Leaving SF early in phase 2

General Discussion for SMART Scholarship Recipients

Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby RAM123 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:34 pm

I was wondering if anyone out there has left their SF early and not completed their phase 2 commitment? I have 3 months left in a 2.5 year commitment, and I have received a job offer that will not let me wait 3 months to come on board. Has anyone ever done this and been excused from the rest of their commitment (AKA not held financially responsible?) My new job is still within the DOD which is the only reason I thought I might potentially be allowed to do it. I have emailed the SMART program office but so far Ive only heard crickets....
RAM123
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Nunya » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:00 pm

Did you even bother to read any of the past posts? A few people have left phase II early, and SMART didn't say much beyond "your payment will be pro-rated." AFAIK, no one has actually been billed for it yet. I'm not one of them, so double-checking what those that did have said would be prudent.
Nunya
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby RAM123 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:04 pm

I did check the past posts, however what I am interested in is did anyone leave and actually get their commitment waived as in they will never be billed for sure. I am wondering since I am staying within the DOD and I can get my SF to agree, will SMART sign off on it and agree to not bill me. Nobody seems to have done that....
RAM123
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Nunya » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:47 am

None that have tried have gotten the commitment waived (AFAIK). Now, if you’re looking to move horizontally within the DoD you do have another option. If SMART and both facilities accept, they can transfer your commitment. At least one other individual was dealing with this route, but I don’t believe there was ever a resolution (or not posted). Essentially, unless there is some extreme reason you can’t complete your commitment, SMART is going to hold you “accountable” for it. Obviously, as others have posted, that “accountable” part is really fuzzy. However, being familiar with the way government operates the debt isn’t going to just evaporate. Eventually SMART will have to balance their books and someone will start asking for the money back. Chances are this will be some 10 years down the road, and those affected probably won’t know until they go to get a loan or clearance renewed. This federal debt will probably pop up out of the blue as some outrageous figure because you been accruing interest charges on it. Sadly, I envision this rolling up some people that had completed their commitment, but the “accountants” added wrong. I for one will be keeping everything pertaining to SMART and my completion for a VERY long time. Good luck with whatever path you choose, and keep this forum updated as you deal with it.
Nunya
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby RAM123 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:06 am

Nunya-

Well I have accepted the new position and SMART said they will allow the change! (with copious amounts of paperwork of course!). I am hoping I dont get a bill in ten years, but I am leaving about 6 weeks early so I do not think it will be a huge bill even if I did. I doubt I will though, as I am staying with the DOD, and I will have an email trail of approval. Thanks for the input!
RAM123
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby upsetSMART » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:22 am

Nunya wrote:None that have tried have gotten the commitment waived (AFAIK). Now, if you’re looking to move horizontally within the DoD you do have another option. If SMART and both facilities accept, they can transfer your commitment. At least one other individual was dealing with this route, but I don’t believe there was ever a resolution (or not posted). Essentially, unless there is some extreme reason you can’t complete your commitment, SMART is going to hold you “accountable” for it. Obviously, as others have posted, that “accountable” part is really fuzzy. However, being familiar with the way government operates the debt isn’t going to just evaporate. Eventually SMART will have to balance their books and someone will start asking for the money back. Chances are this will be some 10 years down the road, and those affected probably won’t know until they go to get a loan or clearance renewed. This federal debt will probably pop up out of the blue as some outrageous figure because you been accruing interest charges on it. Sadly, I envision this rolling up some people that had completed their commitment, but the “accountants” added wrong. I for one will be keeping everything pertaining to SMART and my completion for a VERY long time. Good luck with whatever path you choose, and keep this forum updated as you deal with it.


FYI, most states have a statute of limitations on debt collection (except on student loans). Where I live, SMART has 2-3 years IIRC to send me a bill before it's null. I still "owe" the money, but it's voluntary to pay it as they cannot sue me inside the state.
upsetSMART
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Nunya » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:44 am

upsetSMART wrote:FYI, most states have a statute of limitations on debt collection (except on student loans). Where I live, SMART has 2-3 years IIRC to send me a bill before it's null. I still "owe" the money, but it's voluntary to pay it as they cannot sue me inside the state.


I wouldn't bank on that. The money is comming from the FED, I'd be willing to bet they could get it to fall under the same authority of student loans.

Congrats on getting them to approve the move. Would you share the precess a bit? I will start getting out of here now if it's fairly simple to get accomplished.
Nunya
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby happy » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:55 am

I put in my two weeks yesterday. I had a total of 11 months of service on a two year scholarship. I'm glad I found someone to give me a second chance. I briefly looked through old threads but couldn't find what I was looking for...did the scholars who left report their decision to their CA?
happy
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Nunya » Wed May 01, 2013 9:10 am

happy wrote:I put in my two weeks yesterday. I had a total of 11 months of service on a two year scholarship. I'm glad I found someone to give me a second chance. I briefly looked through old threads but couldn't find what I was looking for...did the scholars who left report their decision to their CA?


From what I recall, at least a few reported that they tried communicating with their CA. I say tried because I believe they never got much of a response beyond “you’ll owe money on a prorated basis.” At least one prodded repeatedly for how much exactly, and how to pay the debt, without any further communication. I would be tempted to just leave them in the dark (as they do us), but that might piss someone off lol.
Nunya
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby happy » Wed May 01, 2013 10:34 am

The handbook states to report any withdrawal, so that's what I'll do. Thanks for the response.
happy
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby RAM123 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:12 am

So I found a weird issue in changing positions in phase 2. I am still in the DOD so I am hoping it won't matter, but when I asked my new agency to accept the transfer of the Scholarship, I was told they would, AFTER I start the new position. Upon further research I found out that the hiring supervisor is technically not allowed to speak directly with the person being hired once they have been chosen. Without being able to talk to him (let alone get a signature) there is really no way for me to transfer the scholarship until after I started at my new job. Since starting, I have sent the paperwork in to SMART and have heard nothing back at all. I do not know if this is because it was accepted, or if it is because my commitment is up in 3 weeks. Regardless, I am not worrying about it!
RAM123
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Lurkish » Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:03 am

Hey RAM123, Could you give us a little information about how you got approval from SMART to move your commitment over to your new job? I'm in the process of changing SFs. My current SF is on board with me moving and I've found a new SF that would like to have me. I just have to get it all approved by SMART. How hard were they to work with and what concerns (if any) did they have with you moving?
Lurkish
 
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Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby RAM123 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:52 am

Lurkish- Like I mentioned in my last post, I was not able to send in the paperwork until after I already started the new job. So once I started, I filled out the paperwork and sent it into SMART. That was about 2 weeks ago, and I have gotten absolutely no reply. I dont know if they are ignoring it, or just accepted it, or what. My commitment is up on July 18th of this year, so i am wondering if they just brushed it off thinking that I am so close to being done it wasn't even worth it. I should probably ping them and ask the status, but I think I am going to wait until July 19th to do that. :)
RAM123
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby EsCrecip » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:43 pm

SMART sent out a Program Update today - had some basic stats on the program and a few success stories (sidebar: is this the first one of these or have i just never seen them?)

An interesting an extremely relevant-to-this-thread point that was listed:

"Debt Collection for participants who have withdrawn or been dismissed from the program commences in early 2014"

It's one of the last points listed under "On The Horizon" in pretty small text near the bottom. I don't think this should surprise anyone, but looks like the gov't is finally going to come get what it is owed. Just thought this might be useful knowledge to those tracking this thread.
EsCrecip
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Nunya » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:18 pm

You beat me too the post lol. It'll be really interesting to see what happens with it. I'm most interested to see what kind of interest they're charging.

On a side note, this is the first one of these I've seen too. And did anyone else see that control of the program has been shifted to the services? Maybe that's why they're now coming after the money.
Nunya
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby guestagain » Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:37 pm

haha I was double beat! I came here to warn some people that I remember hearing had left the program with no consequences...
guestagain
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby limitations » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:12 am

It may be too late for SMART collections in some states depending on statute of limitations on debts. If I were contacted by SMART for repayment and it's been 2-3 years since withdrawing from phase 2, I would seek out a lawyer and see if you legally are obligated to pay.
limitations
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Guest » Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:57 am

Thanks for the update re the program sending out a newsletter including a section stating that debt collections will begin in early 2014. Every time I inquire, I get a not so pleasant reply that they will contact me when something comes up. It will be interesting to see what happens since I've been given multiple deadlines in the past that have been far since exceeded.
Guest
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Guest » Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:05 pm

I have a letter absolving me of all repayment. I'm glad I do, I'll be happy to share it with any auditor who may send me a bill.
Guest
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Guest » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:51 pm

Guest wrote:I have a letter absolving me of all repayment. I'm glad I do, I'll be happy to share it with any auditor who may send me a bill.


Out of curiosity, how did you manage to get this letter? Granted, I have every last document approving changes and every last email and phone conversation documented, but if there is another way to cover my bases, I would like to know.
Guest
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Guest » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:25 pm

Lots, and Lots, and LOTS of nagging to the Office of Secretary of Defense (which oversaw the SMART Program Office at the time).

It took them a while, and some bureaucrats tried to dissuade me by saying the letter wasn't uber important. I called usually about once a week, once every two weeks on occasion. 3 months after my dismissal I was told by phone that the SMART Program decided I left with good cause and they weren't going to seek reimbursement. 3 months after that phone call (lots of nagging) I got a letter signed by an SES.
Guest
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Guest1 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:24 am

So what did they deem a good enough reason?
Guest1
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:04 am

The SF was ignoring the contract terms in a bad way. Initially refused to bring me on board. When they finally relented, they presented an offer different than what I was initially told and it was way below (WAY below) market value, even per OPM standards (which are already below market value).
Guest
 

Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby math_PhD » Fri May 30, 2014 7:35 pm

I am most likely going to leave at the end of my internship this summer. Realistically, I have a couple more years before I finish my PhD and there's no way I'm wasting five years of my life at my SF.

I am curious if they will charge for the full amount of the debt. Two issues:
1) I will have worked 22 weeks at my SF for internships. Are they going to try to take that money back?
2) I have paid over $10k in taxes on my stipend/internship payments. By any reasoning, that should be deducted from repayment.

I wonder if it would be worth hiring a lawyer if they try going after the full amount. Anyone else considered this?
math_PhD
 
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Re: Leaving SF early in phase 2

Postby CMMMM » Sat May 31, 2014 2:07 pm

Since it seems that the program still hasn't started attempting to collect from recipients that left the program early, there is no way to know for sure. You are right, though- those two issues are what keeps me from jetting early. My sense is that the SMART program will try to make leaving early as inconvenient and uncomfortable as possible. I doubt they would reduce debt by the taxes paid, which would mean you would probably need to go back and amend a couple years of tax returns. It would be a dick move to claw back internship stipends, but I assume they would try as it would fall under "...any and all monies expended..." The ironic thing is that in that same paragraph they state the repayment must be "prompt", but participants that left have gone years without hearing anything.
CMMMM
 
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