Frequently Asked Questions
Is this a one-time award or can I apply for the award more than once?
Once approved for loan repayment, there is a rebuttable presumption that a beneficiary/recipient will be given priority consideration to receive funding during the second and third years of the three year service agreement, depending on the availability of funds. Renewal is not automatic, and nothing shall obligate the JRJ Program to renew a benefit in the same (or greater) amount previously received by a beneficiary.
Are there limitations regarding the number of years an attorney has been practicing?
There are no statutory or BJA imposed limitations regarding the number of years an attorney must practice before becoming eligible to apply for loan repayment benefits. While states have the discretion to impose such a limitation, Oklahoma's JRJ Grant Board has chosen not to do so at this time.
What is considered full-time employment for the purpose of this solicitation?
Full-time employment is considered "not less than 75% of a 40 hour work week" for the purpose of this solicitation.
Does the 75% rule relate to the number of hours worked or to the actual time dedicated to either prosecution or defense duties?
The 75% rule relates to the percentage of time a full-time prosecutor or defender actually devotes to prosecution or defense specific duties. If the attorney serves as a part-time prosecutor or defender, then 75% (or 30 hours) of their standard "40 hour work week" must be dedicated to prosecution or defense specific duties.
Does a person have to be employed full-time at the time of selection to be eligible?
Not necessarily, but an applicant must be a "full-time employee" of a state or unit of local government (in the case of prosecutors) or a "full-time employee" of a state, unit of local government, qualifying non-profit organization (under 42 U.S.C. §3797cc-21(b)(2)(B)(ii)), or qualifying full-time Federal defender (under 42 U.S.C. §3797cc-21(b)(2)(B)(iii)) prior to actual receipt of benefits.
Are appellate attorneys handling criminal or juvenile delinquency case appeals eligible for this program?
Yes, provided they otherwise meet the definition of a full-time "prosecutor" or "public defender" under the statute.
Are attorneys who handle an exclusively civil caseloads, such as civil forfeiture or dependency cases, eligible for the program?
What is considered a qualifying student loan for this program?
Federal Stafford Loans (whether subsidized or unsubsidized), Federal Perkins Loans, and Federal GRAD PLUS Loans are qualifying student loans. Federal Parent PLUS Loans and third-party, private, alternative loans are not qualifying student loans. Please note that if you borrowed from a Federal Stafford or GRAD PLUS loan through a private lender (under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP)), such a loan would be a qualifying student loan under this program.
Are loans that were purchased or sold by the original holder eligible for payment?
Loans purchased or sold by the original holder are eligible for payment, assuming the other conditions of the statute (and the solicitation guidelines) are met. The requester must submit proof that the original loan qualified under the JRJ statute.
How do I provide verification that my loans meet the eligibility requirements of the JRJ Program?
Only Federal student loans (both FFELP and Direct Loans) are eligible for JRJ assistance. Oklahoma requires JRJ applicants to verify that their loans meet eligibility requirements using the Federal Student Aid website studentaid.gov. You can find the website here. Studentaid.gov provides borrowers with a centralized view of their loans and information regarding their loan servicer should the applicant need to contact them for more information regarding their loans. To verify that your loans meet the eligibility requirements of the JRJ Program, log into studentaid.gov and generate a federal student loan statement. To access your information, you will need to use your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID and password. If you have never utilized the system, you will need to create an account.
How do I create an FSA ID account?
An FSA ID account can be created here.
Is my FSA ID account for the NSLDS Student Access website the same as my account for the FAFSA website?
Yes. It can also be used at studentaid.gov.
For more information about FSA ID accounts, please visit the Federal Student Aid FAQ page, located here.
Will all applicants receive assistance? If not, how will the Board prioritze individuals' need for assistance?
Due to a limited funding source and an anticipated high volume of requests, all eligible applicants are not guaranteed funding. As such, priority for the program may be based on any combination of the following: types of service; length of service; student loan debt to adjusted gross income ratio; duration of loan payment; employment; and demographics.
How is the amount of the awards determined?
JRJ Program awards will be made by the John R. Justice (JRJ) Grant Board. The total amount of benefits funding with JRJ funding will be divided equally between prosecutors and public defenders. For the 2019-2021 JRJ funds, the JRJ Grant Board will establish an award amount after determining the number of applicants chosen as grant recipients. Within the two employment categories, priority will be given to those attorneys who have the least ability to repay their student loans. An applicant's total eligible educational debt to adjusted gross income (AGI) ratio is a major factor considered by the JRJ Grant Board. However, as noted in the above question, this ratio is not the only factor the JRJ Grant Board may utilize in determining priority.
Additionally, awards will be spread among geographic and population density to ensure that funding is not isolated or heavily concentrated in any particular metropolitan area or geographic section of the state. Widespread distribution between rural and urban areas and amongst all quadrants of the state will be ensured.
When and how will I be notified about my application status?
The JRJ Grant Board will likely meet in November 2020 to make funding decisions. While meetings of the JRJ Grant Board are Open Meetings, applicants are not required to attend. The Board's funding decisions will be based solely upon the information provided in each qualified applicant's JRJ Application Packet. Applicants will receive award notices indicating whether they have received grant funding by January 2021.
How will my award be applied to my loan?
How the award will be applied by your lender is up to the lender, not the JRJ Program. You should discuss this with your lender. Different lenders may have different policies, although lenders will typically apply an award to outstanding interest before applying it to the outstanding principal.
Is the award taxable?
Whether the award is taxable depends on the type of loan. The IRS recently determined that loan forgiveness (i.e. receipt of JRJ funds) for most of the JRJ qualifying student loans is not taxable income. Please click here to determine whether loan forgiveness for your student loan(s) would be taxable.
What happens if I change jobs?
Beneficiaries who change jobs, but maintain continual, eligible employment status in Oklahoma will continue to be eligible for current or renewed benefits to the same extent as those who did not change employment.
Click here to view the JRJ FAQs for the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Please direct any additional questions to Jeff Sifers at (405) 264-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org