The $5.9 million was distributed to veterinarians choosing to practice in under-served areas through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. USDA reports, the average loan totaled $96,582. More than half of the loans went to veterinarians who earned their DVM degree within the last three years, and USDA says 34 state will fill at least four shortage areas.
USDA's National Institute of Food Agriculture (NIFA) received 260 applications for the 2010 loan program.
“Veterinarians face insurmountable student load debt, and often struggle to repay the debt that they incur during their training. Too often, this leads them to make the choice of working in locations that may offer higher pay than in rural America,” says Roger Beachy, NIFA director. “This is creating a shortage of adequate veterinary services for producers of agriculture animals in rural America. Their awards will bring trained veterinarians back to rural areas to serve producers, improve the health of the livestock industry and ensure a safe food supply.”
Veterinarians who receive awards must commit to three years of veterinary service in a designated shortage area. Loan repayments are limited to principal and interest on government and commercial loans used to attend a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). For more information about the program, visit www.nifa.usda.gov .