Program addressing rural veterinary shortages, student debt: Apply now

Published on February 17, 2021
rural veterinary practictioners

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared 196 veterinary shortage areas in 41 states for 2021. To address these shortages, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) 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. The program is overseen by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

  • Applications are now being accepted for the VMLRP through April 16, 2021 at 4 p.m. CT.
  • NIFA will be hosting a webinar for interested VMLRP applicants on Thursday, February 18 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. CT.

VMLRP combats two of the biggest challenges to the veterinary profession – rural veterinary shortages and student debt. Student debt has a significant impact on the career choices of young veterinarians and is a major contributor to veterinary shortages, since veterinary salaries in rural areas are often lower than those in urban areas.

Find more information about the VMLRP application process on the USDA-NIFA website.

Advocating for veterinary priorities

The VMLRP is one of AVMA’s top legislative priorities and the AVMA advocacy team works diligently to ensure that Congress funds the program each year. The AVMA was able to secure an increase in funding that will allow the USDA to award more veterinarians this year. Since 2010, 1,632 veterinarians have applied to the VMLRP, and 552 have received VMLRP awards totaling nearly $52.2 million.

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


Carol-Lynne Meissner, DVM
February 22, 2021 Permalink

Request for info/Veterinary shortage areas

I am a clinical practitioner, and I mentor several young college students in pre-veterinary curricula. I would like to have more information specifically listing the rural areas and job descriptions in the US that are considered underserved by veterinarians, as well as expected income in those areas. Thank you.

List of underserved areas in the US

I would also like a list of the underserved areas in the US to help students that I mentor during high school and veterinary rotations. I think this would help them in their job search process.

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