Washington -- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to accept applications for a federal veterinary student loan repayment program that has been seven years in the making by April.
The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) was established by the National Veterinary Medical Services Act of 2003 and is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). It is designed to help address shortage of veterinarians in certain critical areas with a strong emphasis on food-supply medicine.
An interim final rule of the program published in July 2009 indicates that award recipients can expect to receive as much as $25,000 per year in loan reimbursements for three or four years. The interim rule — based on funds appropriated through fiscal-year 2009 that totaled roughly $4.5 million — says about 40 practicing veterinarians will be selected for the program in its first year. However, Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Governmental Relations Division, points out that Congress appropriated an additional $4.8 million for the program in fiscal 2010.
NIFA expects to begin accepting applications from hopeful program participants on April 30. In return for a three-year commitment of services in a designated area, veterinarians could be eligible for up to $25,000 repayment of student loan debt per year. Repayments are limited to payments of principal and interest on government and commercial loans received for attendance to an accredited veterinary medicine college resulting in the receipt of a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, USDA says. Applications will be due by June 30, and applicants can expect offers to be made to them by September 30, according to USDA.
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