Applications are now being accepted for a federal loan repayment program that helps veterinarians working in underserved areas off-set the cost of earning a veterinary medicine degree, said Agriculture Secretary George Greig today.

Applications for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which reimburses up to $25,000 per year of student loan costs, are due July 8.

“Animal agriculture is the largest part of Pennsylvania’s $6.1 billion agriculture industry, yet we are facing a food animal veterinarian shortage that could put the state’s food supply and economy at risk,” said Greig. “This loan repayment program is a positive step forward that can help encourage more veterinary students to choose a fulfilling career working with large animals.”

To qualify for the loan repayment program, veterinarians must have earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or equivalent degree from an accredited college of veterinary medicine and serve in a designated high-priority veterinary shortage area for at least three years.

A work group led by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and state Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, including representatives from the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, University of Pennsylvania and Penn State University, identified five food supply practice shortage areas for the state. Areas include practices with designated levels of food supply services in Adams, Beaver, Bedford, Butler, Elk, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Lawrence, McKean, Warren and York counties, and the shortage of a public practice veterinarian to fill a vacancy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
Loan repayment benefits are limited to payments of the principal and interest on government and commercial loans received for attendance at an accredited college of veterinary medicine resulting in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or equivalent.

For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov and click on “Animals” then “Animal Health,” or contact the USDA’s Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program office at vmlrp@nifa.usda.gov