USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

February 2, 20200

Through the USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, qualified applicants may be eligible to receive up to $25,000 in assistance towards paying off their student loans. The VMLRP will pay up to $25,000 each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve in a NIFA-designated veterinarian shortage situation for a period of three years. Read on to see eligibility requirements, award amounts, and the application process for the USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program.


In order to be eligible for the USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, you will need to meet all of the following criteria:
  1. Have a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), or the equivalent, from a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA Council on Education;
  2. Have qualifying educational loan debt as defined in 7 CFR 3431 Section 3;
  3. Secure an offer of employment or establish and/or maintain a practice in a veterinary shortage situation, as determined by the Secretary, within the time period specified in the VMLRP service agreement offer; and
  4. Provide certifications and verifications in accordance with 7 CFR 3431 Section 16.

The following individuals are ineligible to apply to the VMLRP:

  1. An individual who owes an obligation for veterinary service to the Federal government, a State, or other entity under an agreement with such Federal, State, or other entity is ineligible for the VMLRP unless such obligation will be completely satisfied prior to the beginning of service under the VMLRP;
  2. An individual who has a Federal judgment lien against his/her property arising from Federal debt; and
  3. An individual who has total qualified debt that does not meet the debt threshold of $15,000.


To be eligible to participate in the VMLRP, a participant must:

  1. Meet the eligibility criteria for applying to the VMLRP;
  2. Be selected for participation by the Secretary pursuant to 7 CFR 3431 Section 12;
  3. Comply with all state and local regulations, including appropriate licensure where required, in the jurisdiction in which he or she proposes to practice;
  4. Be a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States;
  5. Sign a service agreement to provide veterinary services in one of the veterinary shortage situations; and
  6. Comply with the terms and conditions of the Service Agreement.
For a full program breakdown and program restrictions, head over to the official website here.

How much can I expect to be awarded? 

Through the University of Virginia School of Law Loan Forgiveness authorized by the National Veterinary Medical Services Act (NVMSA) helps qualified veterinarians offset a significant portion of the debt incurred in pursuit of their veterinary medicine degrees in return for their service in certain high-priority veterinary shortage situations. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will carry out NVMSA by entering into educational loan repayment agreements with veterinarians who agree to provide veterinary services in veterinarian shortage situations for a determined period of time. If you commit to at least three years to providing veterinary services in a designated veterinary shortage area, NIFA may repay up to $25,000 of your student loan debt per year. Loan repayment benefits are limited to payments of the principal and interest on government and commercial loans you received for the attendance at an accredited college of veterinary medicine resulting in a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or the equivalent.

What loans qualify for this program?

Loan repayments provided under the VMLRP may consist of payments on behalf of participating individuals of the principal and interest on qualifying educational loans received by the individual for attendance of the individual at an accredited college of veterinary medicine resulting in a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, or the equivalent, which loans were made for one or more of the following:

  1. Tuition expenses;
  2. All other reasonable educational expenses; and
  3. Reasonable living expenses, as defined

The following loans are ineligible for repayment under the VMLRP:

  1. Loans not obtained from a bank, credit union, savings, and loan association, not-for-profit organization, insurance company, school, and other financial or credit institution which is subject to examination and supervision in its capacity as lending institution by an agency of the United States or of the State in which the lender has its principal place of business;
  2. Loans for which supporting documentation is not available;
  3. Loans that have been consolidated with loans of other individuals, such as spouses or children;
  4. Loans or portions of loans obtained for educational or living expenses which exceed the standard of reasonableness as determined by the participant’s standard school budget for the year in which the loan was made, and are not determined by the Secretary, to be reasonable based on additional documentation provided by the individual;
  5. Loans, financial debts, or service obligations incurred under another loan repayment or scholarship program, or similar programs, which provide loans, scholarships, loan repayments, or other awards in exchange for a future service obligation;
  6. Non-educational loans, including home equity loans; and
  7. Any loan in default, delinquent, or not in current payment status.

NOTE: The VMLRP will only repay debt incurred at an institution that is accredited at the time of attendance and graduation. If an institution received full accreditation status during the participating individual’s attendance at said institution, only the portion of veterinary school loans that were disbursed subsequent to the institution’s date of accreditation shall be repaid by the VMLRP.  This includes any scenario involving an individual transferring from a non-accredited institution to an accredited institution.  Individuals with a degree from an institution that was not accredited at the time the degree was conferred remain ineligible for award.  This is regardless of the fact that the individual may have attended an accredited institution prior to transferring to a non-accredited institution from which they received their DVM.

How do I apply for this repayment program? 

You can apply for the USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program through the program’s website.

For further questions please reach out below:

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (202) 401-4952
Fax: (202) 720-6486

U.S. Department of Agriculture
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
STOP 2220
Washington, DC 20250-2220

Head over to the program website here for a full breakdown of this year’s requirements and application guidelines.


If you still have questions or would like to know more information please reach out to us here or you can go back to the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Programs page.