At press time in early November, Congress was poised to fund the National Veterinary Medical Service Act for the first time since President George W. Bush signed the law creating the veterinary student loan repayment program nearly two years ago.
Passed in December 2003, the NVMSA authorizes the Department of Agriculture to repay student loans for graduates of accredited veterinary schools and colleges who agree to work in veterinary shortage situations.
Additional loan repayments for veterinarians assisting during federal emergency situations are also allowed by the law.
The Agriculture Appropriations Conference Committee included a $500,000 line item for the NVSMA in the 2006 agriculture, rural development, and related agencies budget. If the bill were enacted, funding for the USDA to administer the program would be available Oct. 1, 2005 through Sept. 30, 2006.
The House has passed its version of the appropriations bill already, and the Senate is expected to do likewise.
Funding for the National Veterinary Medical Service Act has been a top priority for the AVMA. For information about the program, contact the AVMA Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C., at (800) 321-1473.