The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week 80 awards to American veterinarians to help repay a portion of their veterinary school loans in return for serving areas lacking sufficient veterinary resources. The awards, totaling more than $7.7 million, were made by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and will benefit 34 states, Puerto Rico, and other federal lands.
Veterinarians are critical to America's food safety and food security, and to the health and well-being of both animals and humans. Major studies indicate significant and growing shortages of food supply veterinarians and veterinarians serving in certain other high-priority specialty areas. A leading cause for this shortage is the heavy cost of four years of professional veterinary medical training, which can average between $100,000 and $140,000.
Recipients are required to commit to three years of veterinary service in a designated veterinary shortage area. 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-accredited college of veterinary medicine resulting in a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or the equivalent. Loan repayments made by the VMLRP are taxable income to participants.