WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced $4.4 million in available funding to help repay veterinary school loans in return for veterinarians serving in areas lacking sufficient veterinary resources. The funding is available through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), 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” said Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, the NIFA Administrator. “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 American Veterinary Medical Association-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.
In fiscal year 2015, NIFA received 137 applications and made 49 awards.
Since 2009, NIFA has invested in and advanced innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA’s integrated research, education, and extension programs, supporting the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel, have resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability, and ensuring 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.