PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

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PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby Sisyphus » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:59 pm

My PhD research took far longer than planned due to a combination of a dog of a topic, being far too much to do effectively by myself and minimal advisor help; as a result I had to extend several times past my originally planned date, going so far as to go back to TA'ing to finish to try and avoid the wrath of the SMART Debt of Damocles...

Well that stopped despite the fact that I'm planning on holding my final exam in April; SMART denied my last extension and has banished me from the program with only the vague "we will contact you about repayment" email. This came out of left field as my SF contacts said that while they weren't happy it was probably going to go through since I was in towards the end.

So having perused a dozen+ threads deep on this forum is it still the case that nobody has any idea if/when/how SMART will actually come to claim what they seemingly arbitrarily judge to be owed? Is there ANY new information on this from anyone beyond the "DFAS bureaucracy be turning" that I've seen in past threads?

Barring hearing anything from SMART I guess all I can do is finish my PhD, have a chat with a lawyer to prepare for the worst and go job hunting...

I'm going to inquire if going to a DoD research lab, even if not my SF, would be enough to case attempts at collection if I work the desired time but given how opaque the entire setup is around default I'm not expecting an informative reply if any...

Times like this I wish I drank...
Sisyphus
 
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Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby suggestion » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:47 pm

If you actually like your SF and want to work there, see if they'll hire you as a non-SMART employee. That would seem to be the only sure fire way to prevent them from making you pay. But, I haven't see any updates on a collection process.

More generally, the program should take a look at how they handle Phds. Research is unpredictable. You could be delayed by something that isnt your "fault"
suggestion
 

Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby argentum2f » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:06 pm

Sisyphus wrote:I had to extend several times past my originally planned date, going so far as to go back to TA'ing to finish to try and avoid the wrath of the SMART Debt of Damocles...


I'm in a similar position (PhD research not working out) and am looking at trying to go for an extension. Would you mind saying how long you extended before they denied your last extension?

As for your situation, I can't offer more advice than the obvious stuff you've probably thought of - e.g. try to get a DoD job (at your SF if possible) anyway, and then contact the program and see if you can work that out as repayment. Or, go get a high paying industry job. The extra $$$ would probably be enough to pay SMART off in 5-10 years, if they demand repayment. I've thought about going that route anyway, if I had an interesting job offer that was > $30,000/year more than govt. salary (which is quite possible).

Also, please come back and post here when or if anything changes. I think there's a lot of us who would like to know exactly how this situation plays out.

Best of luck to you!
argentum2f
 
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Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby guest300400 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:41 pm

I am in the same boat, but I would like to follow this thread. I haven't gotten any information on repayment other than the letter stating I will be contacted at a later date. I also contact the SMART office and asked what is the precedent for repayment and when I will be contact or the precedent for contact, and I was told that that person was not authorized to discuss repayment and that I would be contacted at a later date with contact information for repayment. I think there is not a system in place to get repayment from an individual. Even if they do request repayment, it might be difficult for them to get all of the money back, because at some point you have completed the classes and done well and you also have worked during your internships and provided a service to the government. They paid you to work on certain projects during the summer for sure which is a direct benefit to the SF.
guest300400
 

Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby Sisyphus » Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:39 pm

I haven't even gotten the letter telling me to wait yet so at least it's good to know the axe isn't likely to drop in the near future while I finish up and find a job.

I also asked about any timelines or if working at my SF or another facility upon completion would have any impact on expected repayment and got the same "not authorized to tell you anything" spiel from SMART. It really does sound like nothing has changed from the 4+ year old posts on here implying no mechanism for repayment exists...doesn't really do much to abate the anxiety beyond the immediate term though...

@argentum2f From what I heard from my facility contact who was in the loop on this apparently SMART has an internal max limit of 2 years LoA to finish regardless of initial funding duration (I was dumb and made mine too short) or other circumstances even if the student is still full timing on their program. I never saw this written down anywhere when I was looking around so either this is a recent change or part of the whole 'undocumented SMART policy' since so much is left unspecified so as to be at their discretion.

Supposedly my last extension for December was the "hard final very last" one for the SPO but I never had that communicated to me anywhere...
Sisyphus
 
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Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby superguest » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:20 pm

if it was me, i would only consider going to the DoD facility if that is where you actually wanted to work.

i'd finish the degree & get a job i am passionate about. there is more money in industry, so you could live humbly and save money in case the MAN kicks down your door for it in a few years.

i definitely would not trust a handshake agreement between a new DoD facility to pay off your debt, if there isn't a DoD form for it, it didn't happen. so you'll be at this new SF for a few years, underpaid, working for the MAN doing questionable acquisitions that you aren't sure are even legal, enjoying donut fridays,talking to your coworkers your tomato garden,thinking you're paying off your debt and the latest "SMART program coordinator" that has been on the job for two whole weeks is going to contact you, tell you mid-donut that you needed to fill out a WTF_1078Z form, and send it in along with a copy of your transcripts, pint of blood and signed hall pass from the SF director for your time to count toward your debt. and guess what? you can't pay them back in tomatoes.

not that i've tried.
superguest
 

Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby guest300400 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:15 pm

I was told the two year LAO limited was a recent change under the new LMI administration.
guest300400
 

Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby Sisyphus » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:07 am

And that recent change gets implemented retroactively and slams down on my neck with no notification/warning... ugh... I wish I could say I'm surprised but I'd be lying.
Sisyphus
 
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Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby superguest » Tue Mar 20, 2018 2:16 am

sisyphus, time to start drinking.

i recommend whiskey, maybe an "old-fashioned" would suit you. as smart scholars, we already have the bitters, just need the simple syrup and the cherry.

good luck kid.
superguest
 

Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby armyPhD » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:46 pm

Can anyone share how long it took to hear back from submitting an extension? I sent mine in about a month and a half ago and haven’t heard anything. My extension request is short compared to some of what I’m reading here but I’m still nervous based on everyone’s stories with LMI.
armyPhD
 

Re: PhD LoA Extension to Finish Degree Denied...what now?

Postby Sisyphus » Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:37 am

Around 2 months tends to be the norm in my experience both pre and post LMI. They ain't exactly quick...

Not to try and scare you either but whether it's approved or denied you'll literally just get an email in your inbox with their decision; they seem to be allergic to asking for additional information/context etc. when it comes to their whole "process" so just hearing nothing from them is no sign either way.
Sisyphus
 
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