Payback Policies, Procedures, and Regulations US Department of Education Office of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services October 13, 2011
Polling Question #1 • Please tell us who you are: • I am a Project Director responsible for a submitting the Payback Report for a current grant • I am a former Project Director responsible for submitting the Payback Report for an inactive grant • I am a staff person responsible for submitting the Payback Report • Other (please specify in the chat feature)
Polling Question #2 • We are interested in learning the following: • A) This is my first Payback Report • B) I have prepared and submitted Payback Reports in the past
Today’s Presenters • Kristen Rhinehart-Fernandez RSA Project Officer • Thomas E. Finch, Ph.D. Director, Training and Service Programs Division (TSPD) • RoseAnn Ashby, Chief Training Programs Unit • Karen Holliday RSA Project Officer
Save the Dates: Payback Webinar Series • All Webinars in the series will be recorded and archived. The intended audience is all Project Directors (current and former) and staff responsible for submitting Payback Reports. • The third Webinar is a live event scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, 2011, at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. The Webinar will highlight frequently asked questions, clarify any areas of confusion or concern, and respond to final questions related to the MIS or Payback policies, procedures, and regulations.
Polling Question #3 • Did you have an opportunity to access the first Webinar recording that focused on how to submit your Payback Report(s) to the RSA MIS? • A) Yes • B) No
Polling Question #4 • Have you had an opportunity to successfully log in to the RSA MIS? • A) Yes, I already started my Payback Report • B) No • C) I am a new user and need to submit the form to request access • D) I have not logged into the RSA MIS in 400 days and need to submit the form to request/regain access • E) I am experiencing technical difficulties and need to reach out to my RSA Project Officer
Agenda • Overview of Payback Reports • Payback Requirements • Tracking scholars under more than one RSA Long-Term Training Grant • Updates to Payback • Deferral Requests • Exception Requests • Scholar Repayment • University Obligation for Repayment • Locating Missing Scholars • Questions and Answers
Overview of Payback Reports • Grantees are required by federal regulation to report data to RSA on all students (known as RSA scholars) who receive financial assistance. • This includes reporting on every scholar’s academic and employment progress until every scholar completes his/her payback obligation (See Section 302 of Title III of the Act, and program regulations at 34 CFR 386.33-35 and 40-43).
Overview of Payback Reports • Payback Reports must be completed and submitted to the RSA Management Information System (MIS). • Due Date: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 (early submission is strongly encouraged). • Payback Reporting period is October 1, 2010-September 30, 2011. • Grantees can access this system at http://rsa.ed.gov.
Payback Requirements • Annually • Complete and submit the RSA Training Payback Reporting Form each year until all scholars have fulfilled their payback obligations. • Contact each former scholar once a year, with a follow-up mailing if he/she does not respond, until he/she has fulfilled their payback obligation. • Update all contact information for each scholar (phone, address, and email).
Payback Requirements, con’t • When in the MIS, please take note of all Long-Term Training grants awarded to your university so that reporting from your university will be complete. • If the MIS is missing one of your PR/Award numbers, please alert your RSA Project Officer ASAP so that it can be added. • Grantees are required to submit a Payback Report for each active and inactive grant until all scholars fulfill the payback obligation through repayment or qualifying employment. • If your university can demonstrate that all scholars have fulfilled their payback obligation under a specific grant, alert your RSA Project Officer so that the grant can be removed from the MIS.
Payback Requirements, con’t • Grantees are required to maintain a hard copy file for every scholar that includes: • Payback Agreement Form signed and dated by the scholar and Project Director; • Exit form signed and dated by the scholar and Project Director; • Certification of Eligibility for Federal Assistance in Certain Programs (ED 80-0016) (http://www2.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/appforms.html); • Annual verification of qualifying employment until the scholar has fulfilled his or her obligation; • Copy of scholar repayment letter issued by RSA, if applicable • Deferral request form, if applicable; • Exception request, including physician documentation for the scholar, if applicable; • Communication with RSA, including decisions related to deferral and or exception requests; and • All relevant communication with the scholar
Payback Requirements, con’t • Grantees are required to establish and maintain a method for tracking scholar data required in the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for each Long-Term Training grant. • RSA strongly encourages the use of an electronic database that is backed up often to preserve scholar data until the scholar fulfills the payback obligation. • Grantees may consider an Access database, Excel spreadsheet, or other electronic system for tracking scholar data.
Tracking scholars under multiple RSA Long-Term Training grants GRANT A GRANT B Stipend $1600 Stipend $800 Scholar Funding $2400
Tracking scholars under multiple RSA Long-Term Training grants Scholar Funding $2400 $800 $1600 GRANT A GRANT B
Updates to Payback • RSA is in the process of making substantial updates to the Payback Manual. • Anticipated completion is December, 2011. • All Payback related questions should be directed to your assigned RSA Project Officer. • If you are not clear who your RSA Project Officer is, please contact RoseAnn Ashby at: Roseann.Ashby@ed.gov. • Guidance to address questions and issues related to defining qualifying employment will be forthcoming.
Deferral • Deferrals: Must be formally approved by RSA. • Step 1: Project Director reviews 34 CFR 386.41 (b) to confirm that scholar’s request for a deferral is an acceptable circumstance. • Step 2: If request is an acceptable circumstance, Project Director will email the deferral request to the RSA Project Officer and include the following: • Completed Deferral request form. Be sure to include the PR Award Number that provided the scholarship funds. • Copy of the signed Payback Agreement Form. • Copy of the scholar’s transcript, as applicable to verify full-time course of study. • Other documentation, as applicable depending on the circumstances.
Deferral, con’t • Prior to submission of deferral information to the RSA Project Officer, the Project Director should discuss the deferral process with the scholar to ensure that the scholar is aware that there are no guarantees of approval. • If approved, the scholar should understand there is only one 2-year grace period.
Deferral, con’t • Project Director should also discuss the scholar’s intent to obtain qualifying employment after the period of deferment.
Exception • Exception requests are reviewed and approved by the RSA Commissioner. • Note: Do not send exception requests directly to the RSA Commissioner. These requests must go through the RSA Project Officer. This is an update to the process. • Step 1: Project Director determines scholar’s request for an exception pursuant to 34 CFR 386.41 (a).
Exception, con’t • Step 2: Project Director communicates directly with scholar to ensure scholar is aware of the exception review and approval process and provides the Project Director with the following required documentation: • Letter from physician documenting the severe disability that is expected to continue indefinitely and prohibits the scholar from obtaining or retaining employment.
Exception, con’t • Step 3: Project Director will submit to RSA Project Officer the following: • Signed Payback Agreement Form; • Signed Exit Form, if applicable; • Physician documentation; and • Letter from the scholar (optional) providing rationale for exception request.
Repayment • There are two instances in which scholar repayment must be submitted. • 1) Scholar drops out, is dismissed or removed from the program, or voluntarily leaves the program: • Two-Year grace period does not apply. • Scholar may obtain qualifying employment and must supply documentation to support employment OR provide repayment of the scholarship. • Information to submit for repayment: • Signed Payback Agreement Form (be sure both the PR Award Number and social security number (SSN) of the scholar are included, the amount owed, and provide RSA with an accurate mailing address of the scholar, if possible.)
Repayment, con’t • 2) Two-year grace period has passed: • If a scholar has not obtained qualifying employment within the two-year grace period he or she must be submitted for repayment. • Failure to obtain qualifying employment does not qualify the scholar for an extension of the grace period or a deferral request. • Documents to submit directly to RSA Project Officer for Repayment (RSA requests electronic copies, if available): • Signed Payback Agreement Form (be sure both PR Award Number and social security number of the scholar are included, amount owed, and provide RSA with an accurate mailing address of the scholar, if possible). • Signed Exit Form
Scholar Repayment Process & Implications • RSA Project Officer prepares the Repayment Letter, which is reviewed by RoseAnn Ashby, Chief of the Training Programs Unit and signed by Dr. Thomas E. Finch, Director of the Training and Service Programs Division. • The Repayment letter establishes the amount owed by the scholar and provides rationale for why the scholar was submitted for repayment. RSA also cites 34 CFR Part 386 where necessary to remind the scholar of his or her Payback obligation. • The Repayment letter provides detailed instructions for setting up repayment.
Scholar Repayment Process & Implications, con’t • The RSA Scholar receives the original signed hard copy Repayment letter and supporting documentation (i.e., signed Payback Agreement Form, Exit Form, and any other relevant documentation) via US Postal mail. • The Project Director receives a hard copy of the Repayment letter and all supporting documentation via US Postal mail. • The RSA Project Officer, Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), and the Payback Coordinator all receive a hard copy of the Repayment letter and all supporting documentation.
Scholar Repayment Process & Implications, con’t • The RSA Scholar has 30 days from the date stamped on the letter to respond to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO). • If the scholar does not respond to the initial Repayment letter within the 30-day timeframe, the OCFO will send the scholar 3 more invoices and 1 Due Process notice. • If the scholar fails to respond, OCFO transfers the debt to the U.S. Treasury (Treasury) for further collection action.
Scholar Repayment Process & Implications, con’t Once the debt is officially transferred to Treasury, the following actions will be taken: • The debt will be placed in Treasury's Tax Offset Program. As a result, any income tax return due to the scholar will be offset and applied to the debt. • Treasury will assess additional fees and penalties up to 28%. • Debts will be reported to Credit Bureaus. • If the debtor is employed, Treasury may initiate wage garnishment in order to repay the debt.
University Obligation for Repayment The University is liable for scholars in repayment status when the University is unable to produce a signed Payback Agreement form or is unable to produce financial records to verify a scholar received grant funds. • The signed Payback Agreement form is a legal binding document that allows RSA to pursue scholar repayment. • The University will receive a repayment letter, similar to the one a scholar would receive, with instructions for contacting the OCFO to establish repayment.
What if I cannot locate the scholar? • The Sponsoring Agency (i.e., the University) must make an attempt to locate a missing scholar via phone, fax, email, and certified mail. • For each attempt, document the date and method of communication.
Locating a scholar, con’t • If a scholar is not in touch with the University, he or she is in violation of the Payback Agreement which states the scholar will maintain contact until the Payback obligation is fulfilled. • Therefore, the University should determine the number of attempts that will be made before a scholar is submitted for repayment and articulate this process to the scholars PRIOR to signing the Payback Agreement.
Locating a scholar, con’t • If all else fails, alert your RSA Project Officer of the situation and submit the signed Payback Agreement along with the Exit Certification form to initiate immediate repayment. Please be sure documentation includes the scholar’s social security number and last known mailing address.
Tips for ensuring successful scholar interaction • While maintaining contact with scholars is required only once a year, the University may need to institute additional “check-in” points during each Fiscal Year, particularly if a scholar has a record of not responding to communication from the University. • Scholars should be regularly reminded of their signed agreement obligations and expectations on the part of the University and RSA in meeting Payback requirements.
Need More Help? Payback Reports open on October 1 of each year and remain open through November 30. If you need additional assistance with your report please contact the your RSA Project Officer prior to the November 30 closing date. For technical issues please review the help menu at http://rsa.ed.gov/technical-support.cfmor contact RSAMIS.Technical.Support@ed.gov. Grantees also should contact the RSA Project Officer for any questions in regards to Payback policy, annual reports, or grants management issues.