On April 19, the United States Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) published the final rule for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP). The AVMA applauded the publication of the rule, which signals the loan repayment program is soon to launch, and pledged to move forward in advancing the program.
The rule, published in the Federal Register, outlines criteria for both the shortage situation designations and applicant eligibility for the loan repayment program. The program was authorized by the National Veterinary Medical Service Act (NVMSA) to bring student debt relief to veterinarians that agree to serve in areas that may impact animal or public health.
On April 30, NIFA announced the next phase of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, including the designated shortage areas (the underserved areas that were selected by USDA from the applicants received by the State Animal Health officials) and the Request for Applicants. Information about the program can be found at VMLRP. Information about the designated shortage areas can be found at VMLRP Designated Shortage Situations. Finally, application materials can be found at: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/nea/animals/in_focus/an_health_if_vmlrp_forms.html.
Note that applications are due by June 30, 2010, and awards are expected by the end of this fiscal year, September 30, 2010.
AVMA leaders, who have spent the better part of the last decade championing the program and funding for it, were ecstatic that debt relief will soon be made available for veterinarians working in underserved areas.
"This is the culmination of years of effort by America's veterinarians and by the USDA to help get this program launched," said Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, CEO of the AVMA. "The AVMA is committed to continue working with NIFA to ensure the program is successfully implemented, and we will continue to advocate with Congress for annual funding for the program and to make the program tax exempt."
The AVMA anticipates that a large number of veterinarians are interested in applying for the program, and it will continue to advocate for increased funding for VMLRP.
The complete rule is available on the U.S. Government Printing Office website, www.gpoaccess.gov.
For more information about the AVMA's continued advocacy on behalf of the program, contact Gina Luke.
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