USDA announces $4.4 million for veterinary loan repayment
In exchange, veterinarians work in underserved communities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that $4.4 million is available to help veterinarians repay their school loans in return for serving in areas lacking sufficient veterinary resources. The funding is available through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“Veterinarians are critical to America's food safety and security, as well as to the health and well-being of both animals and humans,” says NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy, PhD. “There are significant shortages of veterinarians in areas of this country, and a leading cause is the heavy cost of four years of professional veterinary medical training, which leaves current graduates of veterinary colleges with an average debt of more than $135,000.”
Recipients are required to commit to three years of veterinary service in a designated veterinary shortage situation. Loan repayment benefits are limited to payments of the principal and interest on government and commercial loans received while attending an AVMA-accredited college of veterinary medicine resulting in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree or the equivalent.
Participants are required to serve in one of three types of shortage situations. Awardees filling Type 1 shortages areas must dedicate at least 80 percent of their time to provision of food animal veterinary services. Type 2 shortages are rural areas in which awardees are obligated to provide food animal veterinary services at least 30 percent of their time. Type 3 shortage areas are dedicated to public practice and awardees must commit at least 49 percent of their time.
A map is available online describing each shortage area for fiscal year 2016. Applications are due May 20. In fiscal year 2015, NIFA received 137 applications and made 49 awards. The request for 2016 applications can be found here.