Student Loan Forgiveness for Prosecutors and Public Defenders

John R. Justice

Student Loan Forgiveness Program

The John R. Justice Student Loan Forgiveness Program Application Period for Fall 2022 is now open!  

You may access the Fall 2022 Application here: Fall 2022 John R. Justice Loan Forgiveness Application

Applicant FAQs: Applicant FAQs

Due Date: December 21, 2022, Close of Business

JRJ Overview

The JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program is named for the late South Carolina Solicitor John R. Justice, and is authorized in Public Law 110-315, Part JJ, dated August 14, 2008, 42 USC 3797cc-21.  The JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program seeks to attract and retain talented attorneys as prosecutors and public defenders, in spite of their substantial student loan debt.  Accordingly, the JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program provides loan repayment assistance for state and local prosecutors; state, local and federal public defenders; and employees of nonprofit organizations operating under state or local government contracts who provide legal representation to indigent persons in criminal or juvenile delinquency cases.  Repayment benefits cannot exceed $10,000 in a calendar year with a total aggregate not to exceed $60,000.   Eligible attorneys must agree to remain employed as prosecutors and defenders for at least three years. The South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination administers the JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program for South Carolina.  For general information about the JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program, visit the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance website.

Eligible education loans include:

 

  • Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) Loans
  • Federal Direct Stafford Loans
  • FFELP and Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
  • FFELP and Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans

Non-eligible loans include:

  • Federal Parent PLUS Loans
  • Federal Consolidation Loans used to repay Federal Parent PLUS Loans
  • Defaulted student loans
  • Non-federal student loans (private, commercial or alternative student loans)
  • Any eligible loan that has been paid in full

Application Process

Review the Fall 2022 application and Frequently Asked Questions to determine if you are eligible to apply.  Prior to the deadline of December 21, 2022, Close of Business, complete all required portions of the Fall 2022 Application and return as a single PDF via email to the SCCPC Director of Business Services and Communications asancho-baker@cpc.sc.gov. 

Award Selection and Process

All timely and completed the Applications will be reviewed for program eligibility once the application period has closed.  Eligible applicants will be identified based on eligibility requirements set forth in the application.  Once deemed eligible, applicants are ordered based on a set of factors impacting one’s ability to repay student loan debt, such as the income to debt ratio.  The SCCPC will notify eligible recipients of their award amount* in writing and eligible recipients must expressly accept the award.  Annual award amounts are contingent upon available funding. 

Award monies are paid directly to the lender or servicer of the loan upon execution of the service agreement required for participation in the JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program. As required by the grant, the award money is intended to supplement, not substitute, the recipient’s personal student loan obligation.  All awards are subject to federal funding of the JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program.

* Award amount for each recipient is subject to change based on availability of funding and number of eligible applicants. 

Note on Taxes: Any Loan Repayment award may result in tax implications. Please consult with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a tax advisor.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. ARE THERE LIMITATIONS REGARDING THE NUMBER OF YEARS AN ATTORNEY HAS BEEN PRACTICING?
South Carolina does not currently impose a limitation on years practicing to be eligible to apply.

2. HOW ARE AWARDS DETERMINED?
Priority consideration is given to those applicants with the least ability to repay their loans and to those prior recipients in the second and third years of the 3-year service agreement. The South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination will consider additional factors including those impacting an applicant’s ability to repay their loans such as the applicant’s amount of total student loan debt and Adjusted Gross Income.

3. WILL I BE CONTACTED IF MY APPLICATION IS MISSING INFORMATION?
No. Applicants will not be notified if a form is incomplete or the application is deficient in information. Refer to the Application Instructions for a comprehensive list of the required forms and information to be provided.

4. MY ELIGIBLE STUDENT LOAN IS IN A DEFERMENT OR FORBEARANCE STATUS. AM I STILL ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
Yes. A loan that has the status of “deferment” or “forbearance” is not considered a loan in default, so long as the lender does not consider the loan in default.

5. WHAT IS CONSIDERED FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS SOLICITATION?
Full-time employment is considered “not less than 75 percent of a 40-hour work week” for the purpose of this program.

6. ARE ATTORNEYS WHO HANDLE APPELLATE-LEVEL CRIMINAL OR JUVENILE DELINQUENCY CASE WORK ELIGIBLE FOR THIS PROGRAM?
Yes, provided they otherwise meet the definition of a full-time “prosecutor” or “public defender” under the statute (and the solicitation and guidelines).

7. IS THERE A SALARY CAP FOR ELIGIBILITY?
No. However, an eligible applicant’s current salary will be weighed in determining priority of awards.

8. IS THERE A MINIMUM AMOUNT OF STUDENT LOAN DEBT TO BE ELIGIBLE?
Yes, to be eligible, an applicant must have a minimum of $50,000.00 in cumulative student loan debt as reflected in National Student Loan Data System records. This number includes all student loan debt held by the applicant.

9. WHICH SERVICE AGREEMENT SHOULD I SIGN?
First time ever receiving award: Service Agreement (3-year commitment from the date of signing)
Prior recipient currently serving my three-year term, either in my second or third year of the original service agreement: Service Agreement Acknowledgment of Benefit
Prior recipient and I’ve completed my original three-year term: Secondary Term of Service Agreement (additional 1-year commitment as of the date of signing)

10. WHEN DOES MY TERM OF SERVICE BEGIN?
The effective date of the JRJ beneficiary’s term of service under the relevant Service Agreement is the date of execution of the service obligation agreement, which should accompany applicant’s completed application.

11. I’VE SIGNED MULTIPLE SERVICE AGREEMENTS UNDER MY ORIGINAL 3-YEAR SERVICE AGREEMENT. DO THESE SERVICE AGREEMENTS ADD COMPOUNDED SERVICE TIME?
No. If applicant signed additional service agreements while still within the original 3-year term, those agreements will be construed to serve as a reaffirmation and acknowledgement of the original signed agreement and its terms and conditions. Through the first 3 years of the program, JRJ beneficiaries are subject to only to one JRJSLRP Service Agreement, executed at the time that the JRJ beneficiary first entered into the JRJ program, and if applying for and receiving additional awards during that 3-year period, should only sign the Service Agreement Acknowledgment of Benefit form. Only after completing the original 3-year term and if the recipient of additional JRJSLRP awards should the JRJ beneficiary sign the Secondary Term of Service Agreement, committing the JRJ beneficiary to an additional year of service.

12. I AM LEAVING MY CURRENT POSITION AND MY NEW POSITION OF EMPLOYMENT DOES NOT SATISFY THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS OF THE JRJ STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM. WHAT DO I DO?
Consistent with the terms of the JRJ SLRP Service Agreement, JRJ recipients are required to inform the SCCPC of their separation from a qualified position of employment and the status of their repayment. If the JRJ beneficiary who is no longer eligible has not completed the term of service (either original 3-year term or additional year following completion of the 3-year period) prior to departure from eligible employment, a payment in the total amount of the JRJ Student Loan Repayment benefits that have been made on behalf of the JRJ recipient for that period must then be sent to the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) 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.

13. I AM LEAVING MY CURRENT POSITION AND MY NEW POSITION OF EMPLOYMENT DOES NOT SATISFY THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS OF THE JRJ STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM. DO I HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE TO REPAYING THE JRJ AWARD?
You may seek a waiver request from the United States Attorney General in accordance with the authorizing statute. Waiver requests may be submitted via email at the dedicated mailbox: jrjwaiver@usdoj.gov also found at www.bja.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?Program_ID=65. 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: i) 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 an one (1) page Word document that includes an explanation for the waiver request; ii) Attached applicable supporting documentation, including any documentation in support of the waiver request received from the State JRJ Administering Agency.

14. HOW WILL THE JRJ GRANT PROGRAM AFFECT MY ELIGIBILITY UNDER THE PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS (PSLF) PROGRAM?
Possibly. Lump sum payments and monthly payments of JRJ benefits may interplay with the PSLF program and JRJ beneficiaries and applicants are strongly encouraged to coordinate with the PSLF program to ensure there is no disruption to eligibility for the PSLF program due to receipt of JRJ benefits. 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: (i) 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. (ii) 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 s/he does 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 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. 10 Law school, state-based, and employer-based Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (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.

15. IS A JRJ BENEFICIARY ELIGIBLE TO CONTINUE RECEIVING JRJ BENEFITS FROM THEIR STATE OF ORIGIN IF THEY ATTAIN AN ELIGIBLE POSITION IN A DIFFERENT STATE?
No. If, after receiving any JRJ benefit, a current John R. Justice (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 s/he plans 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 his/her 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.

16. WHEN WILL I RECEIVE MY AWARD?
JRJ loan repayment of benefits/awards are not paid directly to a JRJ beneficiary. Instead, payments are made directly to the holder the of the loan for the benefit of the borrower. While the JRJ beneficiary may hold more than one qualifying student loan, funds will only be issued to one institution, as identified by the applicant on the application. Further, all South Carolina John R. Justice grant student loan repayment program grant awards are subject to the availability of funding and the United States Department of Justice approval to draw down awarded funds and issue benefits to lenders.

17. ONCE THE AWARD IS SENT TO MY LENDER, DOES THIS MEAN I CAN SKIP A PAYMENT?
Funds awarded under this program are a supplement to, not a substitute for, personal student loan obligations. Subrecipients remain responsible for making regular student loan payments and must continue to make personal payments toward their qualifying loan to remain eligible for the JRJ Program in the future. The JRJ beneficiary remains responsible for any remaining payments or balances. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor the South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination will be held responsible for any late fees assessed by the lending institution. Therefore, the JRJ beneficiary will be responsible to ensure their monthly payment is paid in full and in a timely manner, especially if the payment is due on or before the South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination issues the payment.

18. IS THERE A LIMIT ON HOW MANY TIMES I CAN APPLY AND BE AWARDED UNDER THIS PROGRAM?
The amount paid by the South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination to an individual shall not exceed $10,000.00 in any calendar year, or an aggregate lifetime total of $60,000.00.

19. IN ADDITION TO THE APPLICATION, DO I HAVE TO SUBMIT OTHER FORMS OR DOCUMENTATION?
Yes. Please reference the application checklist prior to submitting your application. In addition to a completed and timely submitted application, required attachments at the time of application submission include:
i. National Student Loan Data Systems (NSLDS) Summary and Detail Printout
a. NSLDS is the U.S. Department of Education central database for student aid. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of Education programs. Applicants must print the Summary page for each student loan the applicant has with a lending institution, including the qualifying student loan for which assistance is requested. 18 Applicants can access this page at www.nslds.ed.gov, which displays information on loan and/or grant amounts, outstanding balances, loan statuses, and disbursements. In order to use the NSLDS Student Access website, you will need to provide your social security number, the first two letters of your last name, your date of birth, and your PIN (formerly known as EAC). If you do not have a PIN or have forgotten your PIN, go to http://www.pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp.
ii. Completed Verification of Eligible Employment signed by supervisor
iii. Completed Loan Verification form
iv. Most recent tax return
v. Signed Service Agreement (see FAQ #6 if unsure which Service Agreement to sign)
vi. Certification of truth and accuracy of application and accompanying documents

20. WHICH STUDENT LOANS ARE ELIGIBLE UNDER THE JRJ PROGRAM?
The following loans are eligible for repayment with JRJ funds: (i) FFELP or Direct Unsubsidized Loans; (ii) FFELP or Direct Subsidized Loans; (iii) FFELP or Direct Consolidation Loans; (iv) FFELP or Direct Graduate PLUS Loans; and (v) Federal Perkins Loans.

21. I HAVE BEEN AWARDED JRJ BENEFITS, BUT I WILL INCUR AN ABSENCE FROM EMPLOYMENT DUE TO UNIFORMED SERVICE IN A RECOGNIZED BRANCH OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY, MATERNITY/PATERNITY LEAVE, OR FMLA. DOES THIS IMPACT MY BENEFITS AND ELIGIBILITY?
No, for absence from employment due to these specific reasons will be credited toward the required service period. Should such an event, or another reason for absence occur, you should notify the South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination in writing via email without delay. In the event of other reasons for absence, the South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination will take appropriate action based on the
situation.