The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $4.2 million in available funding to help eligible veterinarians repay a portion of their veterinary school loans in return for serving in areas of the United States lacking sufficient veterinary resources. Funding is made through NIFA’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Many veterinarians are facing insurmountable student loan debt, and they choose to work in urban locations that offer higher pay. This is causing a critical shortage of veterinarians in rural America,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “This assistance will help veterinarians return to rural America where they can provide needed services to our farmers and ranchers, and continue to keep our food supply secure from diseases of farm animals.”
Studies indicate significant and growing shortages of food supply veterinarians. A leading cause of the shortage is the heavy cost of four years of professional veterinary medical training, which can average more than $150,000. Without the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program to help relieve that financial burden, many veterinarians might otherwise select more lucrative career options in the urban areas, such as companion animal care.
Recipients are required to commit to three years of veterinary service in a designated veterinary shortage area. A map of veterinary service shortage areas by state is available online. Loan repayment benefits are limited to payments of the principal and interest on government and commercial loans received for attendance at an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-accredited college of veterinary medicine resulting in a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or the equivalent.
- Have a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine by July 1, 2017, or the equivalent, from a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA Council on Education;
- Have a minimum qualifying educational loan debt of $15,000;
- Secure an offer of employment or establish and/or maintain a practice in a NIFA-designated veterinary shortage situation within the time period specified in the VMLRP service agreement offer;
- Provide certifications and verifications as defined in 7 CFR 3431, Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program;
- Not owe an obligation for veterinary service to the federal government, state, or other entity under an agreement with such federal, state, or other entity unless such obligation will be completely satisfied prior to beginning service under the VMLRP; and
- Not have a federal judgement lien against his/her property arising from federal debt.
The deadline for applications is May 26, 2017.
See the request for applications for details.
Since the program was implemented in 2010, more than 300 veterinarians have helped fill shortage situations in 46 states. In a blog, Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Pays Dividends, two recent participants, Idaho-based veterinarian Annie Bowes and Kentucky-based veterinarian Tim VanDerPloeg, talked about the program’s impact to them and their communities.
NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and promotes transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA support for the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel has resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability, and ensure food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts, sign up for email updates or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.
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