Funding available for rural veterinary practitioners and programs

rural veterinary practictioners
Published on March 05, 2020

Two federal programs that provide money to combat rural veterinary shortages are accepting applications for new participants. Applications are due in early April for both the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP).

Together, these programs look to close veterinary access gaps in rural and agricultural areas that have critical need for veterinary services. Both programs are overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA), which designates specific veterinary shortage areas eligible for the funding.

For 2020, USDA has declared 217 veterinary shortages in 47 states – the most in the program’s history

Loan repayment available through VMLRP

The VMLRP program provides veterinarians up to $25,000 a year for student loan repayment in exchange for at least three years of service in one of the USDA-designated shortage areas. 

  • VMLRP applications will be accepted through April 2, 2020. 
  • Get more information, including an application timeline and detailed guidance on the application process, on USDA NIFA’s VMLRP webpage.  

VSGP grants fund initiatives to address workforce gaps

Grants are offered through VSGP to support education and extension activities, and veterinary practice enhancements, that expand veterinary capacity in a shortage area. For example, past grants have helped fund a mobile equipment for a food animal practice, and programs to help recruit food animal veterinarians to rural areas. In 2019, NIFA awarded nine education and extension grants and seven practice enhancement grants

  • VSGP applications are due April 7, 2020. 
  • Find more information on USDA NIFA’s VSGP webpage.

AVMA’s advocacy supports both programs

AVMA is a leading supporter of VMLRP, VSGP, and other programs that address veterinary access gaps through student loan support, federal grants and other aid. Learn about this advocacy work, and see how you can add your voice with those of other AVMA colleagues, in the advocacy section of

Find more information about student loan forgiveness and repayment programs in the personal finance section of the website.


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