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Eligibility & Programs

Overview

The NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) are a set of programs established by Congress and designed to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. The escalating costs of advanced education and training in medicine and clinical specialties are forcing some scientists to abandon their research careers for higher-paying private industry or private practice careers.

The LRPs counteract that financial pressure by repaying up to $35,000 annually of a researcher's qualified educational debt in return for a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research. Since tomorrow's medical breakthroughs will be made by investigators starting in their research careers today, the LRPs represent an important investment by NIH in the future of health discovery and the wellbeing of the Nation.

There are eight LRPs, five for researchers not employed by NIH (Extramural) and three for researchers employed by NIH (Intramural). Research funding from NIH is not required to participate in the Extramural LRPs, and Extramural and Intramural LRP awardees may apply for subsequent, competitive renewal awards as long as they meet Program eligibility. Although organized around broad research areas, the LRPs were never intended to fund research projects. Rather, LRP awards are based on an applicant's potential to build and sustain a research career. Please read below for general eligibility requirements and Program details.

Eligibility

No applicant will be excluded from consideration on the basis of age, race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other non-merit factors.

Citizenship - You must be a U.S. citizen, U.S national, or permanent resident of the U.S. by the LRP award start date.

Qualifying Degree - Possess an M.D., Ph.D., Pharm.D., Psy.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.P.M., D.C., N.D., O.D., D.V.M., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited institution.  The exception is the Extramural Contraception and Infertility LRP, which also accepts certain master's degrees and certifications.  See the Extramural Contraception and Infertility LRP page for additional details.

Qualified Educational Debt - You must have total qualified educational debt equal to or in excess of 20 percent of your institutional base salary at the time of award. Institutional base salary is the annual amount you are paid for your appointment, whether the time is spent on research, teaching, patient care, or other activities. Institutional base salary excludes any income that you may earn outside of the duties of the organization. It is not necessary for renewal applicants to satisfy the 20 percent debt-to-income requirement.

Qualified Research (Extramural programs only) - You must agree to conduct only research that is not prohibited by Federal law, regulations, or policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or National Institutes of Health (NIH). If you receive an LRP award, you must conduct your research in accordance with applicable Federal, State, and local law (e.g., applicable human subject protection regulations) for the entire contract period. Additionally, you must engage in qualified research for an average of at least 20 hours per week during each quarterly service period of your LRP award.

Qualified Research Assignments (Intramural programs only) - You must be appointed at the NIH in a qualified research area.

  • For the AIDS and Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds (CRDB) LRPs, qualified research assignments must involve AIDS or clinical research and be approved by the Loan Repayment Committee (LRC). In support of the objectives of these LRPs, if applicable, an individual who is already employed by the NIH and applies to these LRPs must demonstrate his/her ability and intention to transfer from a non-qualified to a qualified AIDS or clinical research assignment.
  • Unlike the AIDS and CRDB LRPs, the General LRP is not targeted toward a specific area (e.g., AIDS) or type (e.g., clinical) of research. Rather, the focus is on attracting and retaining highly talented investigators to pursue biomedical research studies and investigations in a variety of scientific disciplines. Generally, this LRP is used to attract or retain more senior researchers rather than trainees. For the General LRP, a "qualified research assignment" is one that is approved by the LRC based on the nature of the proposed research and its relationship to the mission and priorities of NIH.

Domestic, nonprofit research funding (Extramural programs only) - Your research must be supported by a domestic, nonprofit foundation, university, professional association, or other nonprofit institution, or a U.S. government agency (Federal, State, or local). A domestic foundation, professional association, or institution is considered to be nonprofit if it is exempt from Federal tax under the provisions of Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501). NIH grants and university salaries are considered eligible funding. Your primary employment must be with a nonprofit institution. Any employment or income outside of the nonprofit institution must be separate from your research and cannot represent a significant amount of your total income.

NIH Employment (Intramural programs only) - You must be an NIH employee or have a firm commitment of employment from an authorized official of the NIH. Appointments are made under the broad authority of the Federal Civil Service (Title V or Title 42), o the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service. Responsibility for obtaining qualifying employment rests with the LRP applicant.

 

You are ineligible to apply for the NIH LRPs if you are:

  • An individual who is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or permanent resident of the U.S. by the LRP award start date;
  • An individual who has or had a Federal judgment lien against his/her property arising from Federal debt;
  • An individual who owes an obligation of health professional service to the federal government, a state, or other entity, unless deferrals or extensions are granted for the length of the NIH LRP contract;
  • An individual employed by a federal government agency, other than NIH, with a work schedule of more than 20 hours per week (5/8ths time or more);
  • An individual who derives income from a for-profit source or from a private practice;
  • A current recipient of an NIH Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) or a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA);
  • An individual conducting research for which funding is precluded by Federal law, Federal regulations, or HHS/NIH policy, or that does not comply with applicable Federal, State, and local law regarding the conduct of the research (e.g., applicable human subject protection regulations);
  • An individual who does not meet the 20% debt-to-income ratio.

 

NIH will repay your lenders for qualified educational loans issued by any U.S. government entity, accredited U.S. academic institutions, and/or commercial lenders that are subject to examination and supervision in their capacity as lending institutions by an agency of the United States or the state in which the lender has its principal place of business.

Qualified educational loans are loans that were used for school tuition or other reasonable educational or living expenses (including room/board and transportation) while attending undergraduate, graduate, medical, dental, or veterinary schools. LRP awards are not retroactive, thus loan balances paid down or paid-in-full prior to the start date of an LRP award will not be factored in the calculation of an award. NIH also will not repay any late fees, penalty fees, additional interest charges, or collection costs.

Visit the Loan Information page for more details on loans that do or do not qualify for LRP repayment.

 

Programs

There are eight NIH Loan Repayment Programs, five for researchers not employed by NIH (Extramural) and three for researchers employed by NIH (Intramural).  Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page, and the LRP Information Center (866-849-4047; lrp@nih.gov) is available to help with general eligibility concerns.

Extramural Researchers (Not Employed by NIH)

  • Applicants need to decide which of the five Extramural LRPs most appropriately matches to their general research area.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the summary descriptions of each of the LRPs below.
  • For the Clinical Research and Pediatric Research LRPs, individuals are given the option to indicate a preferred NIH Institute or Center (IC) for peer review.  For help determining IC match, applicants should contact the appropriate LRP IC Liaison(s).  It is recommended that applicants read the Mission and LRP Research Priorities Statements for each of the NIH ICs in order to determine the best match.  A list of LRP IC Liaisons, IC Mission Statements, and LRP Research Priorities Statements can be found on the Contact & Engage page.

Intramural Researchers (Employed by NIH)

  • Applicants should contact their direct supervisor in order to determine if their position qualifies for the Intramural LRPs.
  • Applicants, in consultation with their supervisor, will determine which Intramural LRP is most appropriately matched to their research.

 

When ready to start an application, select apply or renew to obtain more application information.  Be aware of the application periods.

 

Clinical Research icon

Clinical Research

For clinical investigators interacting with human patients in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

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Program Announcement

See Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Research (LRP-CR) notice for program and policy guidance.

Definitions

Clinical Research – Patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects, or research on the causes and consequences of disease in human populations involving material of human origin (such as tissue specimens and cognitive phenomena) for which an investigator or colleague directly interacts with human subjects in an outpatient or inpatient setting to clarify a problem in human physiology, pathophysiology or disease, epidemiologic or behavioral studies, outcomes or health services research, or developing new technologies, therapeutic interventions, or clinical trials.

Please note: The definition of Clinical Research for the LRPs is derived from LRP-related legislation and may differ from other published Clinical Research definitions.

Pediatric Research icon

Pediatric Research

For investigators conducting research directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children.

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Program Announcement

See Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Pediatric Research (LRP-PR) notice for program and policy guidance.

Definitions

Pediatric Research – Research that is directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children.

Health Disparities Research icon

Health Disparities Research

For investigators conducting research that focuses on one or more of the minority health disparity populations defined by NIMHD and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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Program Announcement

See Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Health Disparities Research (LRP-HDR) notice for program and policy guidance.

Additional Program Information

All applications to the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research LRP are reviewed by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

Definitions

Health Disparity Populations – Health Disparity Populations are determined by the Director of NIMHD, after consultation with the Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and are defined as populations where there is significant disparity in the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival rates in the population as compared to the health status of the general population. The following populations have been designated as health disparity populations: Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, and rural populations.

Health Disparities Research – Basic, clinical, social, or behavioral research on health disparity populations (including individual members and communities of such populations) that relates to health disparities, including the causes of such disparities and methods to prevent, diagnose, and treat such disparities.

Minority Health Disparities Research – Basic, clinical, or behavioral research on minority health conditions, including research to prevent, diagnose, and treat such conditions.

Minority Health Conditions – All diseases, disorders, and other conditions (including mental health and substance abuse) that are unique to, more serious, or more prevalent in members of minority groups (racial or ethnic minority groups), for which the medical risk or types of medical intervention may be different for members of minority groups, or for which it is unknown whether such factors or types are different for such individuals, or research involving such populations as subjects or data on such individuals is insufficient.

Contraception and Infertility Research icon

Contraception and Infertility Research

For investigators conducting research in condictions that impact on the ability of couples to either conceive or bear young.

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Program Announcement

See Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Contraception and Infertility Research (LRP-CIR) notice for program and policy guidance.

Additional Program Information

All applications to the Contraception and Infertility Research LRP are reviewed by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).  In addition to doctoral-level degrees, applications will be considered from other allied health professionals including nurses, physician assistants, graduate students, or postgraduate research fellows training in a health profession.

Definitions

Contraception Research – Research that has the ultimate goal of providing new or improved methods of preventing pregnancy.

Infertility Research – Research that has the long-range objectives of evaluating, treating, or ameliorating conditions that result in the failure of couples to either conceive or bear young.

Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds icon

Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds

For clinical investigators coming from an environment that inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skill, and ability required to enroll in, and graduate from, a health professional school, or from a family with an annual income below low-income thresholds.

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Program Announcement

See Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds (LRP-IDB) notice for program and policy guidance.

Additional Program Information

All applications to the Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Research LRP will be reviewed by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

Applicants certify disadvantaged background status by submitting at least one of the following documents at the time of application:

  • A written statement from the applicant's health professions school(s) indicating qualification for federal disadvantaged assistance during metriculation;
  • Documentation of Health Professions Student Loans or Loans for Disadvantaged Students
  • Documentation of a scholarship from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need

Current financial need is not sufficient to be classified as an individual from a disadvantaged background.

Definitions

Clinical Research – Patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects, or research on the causes and consequences of disease in human populations involving material of human origin (such as tissue specimens and cognitive phenomena) for which an investigator or colleague directly interacts with human subjects in an outpatient or inpatient setting to clarify a problem in human physiology, pathophysiology or disease, epidemiologic or behavioral studies, outcomes or health services research, or developing new technologies, therapeutic interventions, or clinical trials.

Please note: The definition of Clinical Research for the LRPs is derived from LRP-related legislation and may differ from other published Clinical Research definitions.

Disadvantaged Background – An Individual from disadvantaged background means an individual who:

  1. Comes from an environment that inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skill and ability required to enroll in and graduate from a health professions school; or
  2. Comes from a family with an annual income below a level based on low-income thresholds according to family size published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index, and adjusted by the Secretary for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels in the Federal Register.
AIDS Research icon

AIDS Research

For NIH investigators conducting research with respect to acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

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Legislative Authority

In November 1988, Public Law (P.L.) 100-607 introduced Section 487A of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act (42 USC 288-1), authorizing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish the AIDS Research LRP.

Definitions

AIDS Research – Research that includes studies of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the pathophysiology of HIV infection, the development of models of HIV infection and its sequelae, cofactors predisposing to HIV infection and AIDS, or its equelae, and the development of vaccines and therapeutics.

Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds icon

Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds

For NIH clinical investigators coming from an environment that inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skill, and ability required to enroll in, and graduate from, a health professional school, or a family with an annual income below low-income thresholds.

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Legislative Authority

P.L. 103-43 also added Section 487E (42 USC 288-5), which established a program of educational loan repayment to attract physicians or dentists from disadvantaged backgrounds to conduct clinical research.

Additional Program Information

All applications to the Clinical Research for Indivduals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds will be reviewed by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

Applicants certify disadvantaged background status by submitting at least one of the following documents at the time of application:

  • A written statement from the applicant's health professions school(s) indicating qualification for federal disadvantaged assistance during metriculation;
  • Documentation of Health Professions Student Loans or Loans for Disadvantaged Students
  • Documentation of a scholarship from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need

Current financial need is not sufficient to be classified as an individual from a disadvantaged background.

Definitions

Clinical Research – Patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects, or research on the causes and consequences of disease in human populations involving material of human origin (such as tissue specimens and cognitive phenomena) for which an investigator or colleague directly interacts with human subjects in an outpatient or inpatient setting to clarify a problem in human physiology, pathophysiology or disease, epidemiologic or behavioral studies, outcomes or health services research, or developing new technologies, therapeutic interventions, or clinical trials.

Please note: The definition of Clinical Research for the LRPs is derived from LRP-related legislation and may differ from other published Clinical Research definitions.

Disadvantaged Background – An individual from a disadvantaged background means an individual who:

  1. Comes from an environment that inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skill and ability required to enroll in and graduate from a health professions school; or
  2. Comes from a family with an annual income below a level based on low-income thresholds according to family size published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, adjusted annually for the changes in the Consumer Price Index, and adjusted by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Secretary) for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels in the Federal Register.
General Research icon

General Research

For NIH scientific investigators conducting many types of research.

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Legislative Authority

In June 1993, P.L. 103-43 authorized Section 487C (42 USC 288-3), which established a program of educational loan repayment to attract highly qualified health professionals, particularly physicians, to conduct research at NIH.

Additional Program Information

Applicants to the General Research LRP must hold a three-year appointment at the NIH beginning in the fiscal year of application.

Definitions

Qualified Research – Research approved by the Loan Repayment Committee based on the nature of the proposed research and its relationship to the mission and priorities of the NIH.

General Research for ACGME

For NIH investigators or fellows who were also in subspecialty and residency training programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

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Legislative Authority

In June 1993, P.L. 103-43 authorized Section 487C (42 USC 288-3), which established a program of educational loan repayment to attract highly qualified health professionals, particularly physicians, to conduct research at NIH.

Additional Program Information

Applicants to the General Research LRP for ACGME Fellows must hold a three-year appointment at the NIH beginning in the fiscal year of application.

Definitions

Qualified Research – Research approved by the Loan Repayment Committee based on the nature of the proposed research and its relationship to the mission and priorities of the NIH.

Application Periods and Documentation Deadlines

 

Extramural New & Renewal Awards

Online Application Period

clock icon Sep 1, 2015 - Nov 16, 2015

Colleague and Institutional Documentation Period

clock icon Sep 1, 2015 - Dec 1, 2015

Contract and Certification Documentation Deadline?Such as the Contract, Certification for Online Applications, Citizenship, and Disadvantaged Background

clock icon Dec 31, 2015

Intramural New Awards

Online Application Period

clock icon Sep 1, 2015 - Apr 1, 2016

Colleague Documentation Period

clock icon Sep 1, 2015 - Apr 15, 2016

Contract and Certification Documentation Deadline?Such as the Contract, Certification for Online Applications, Citizenship, and Disadvantaged Background

clock icon April 30, 2016

Intramural ACGME New Awards

Online Application Period

clock iconSep 1, 2015 - Jun 15, 2016

Colleague Documentation Period

clock iconSep 1, 2015 - Jun 30, 2016

Contract and Certification Documentation Deadline?Such as the Contract, Certification for Online Applications, Citizenship, and Disadvantaged Background

clock icon June 30, 2016

Intramural Renewal Awards

Online Application Period

clock icon Sep 1, 2015 - Feb 1, 2016

Colleague Documentation Period

clock icon Sep 1, 2015 - Feb 15, 2016

Contract and Certification Documentation Deadline?Such as the Contract, Certification for Online Applications, Citizenship, and Disadvantaged Background

clock icon Feb 29, 2016

LRP Benefits and Financial Eligibility

Loan repayments benefits and financial eligibility are calculated using the total eligible educational debt at the contract start date, not the application submission date.

All Extramural LRP new awards are two years. Repayments for a new award are calculated using the eligible educational debt at the contract start date. The repayment amount is equal to one-quarter of the total eligible educational debt, up to $35,000, for each year of the award. To receive the maximum amount of $70,000 for a two-year award, an applicant must have at least $140,000 in eligible educational debt at the contract start date.

Payments are made on a quarterly basis, starting with the highest priority loan per NIH guidelines. If a loan is paid-in-full before the end of the contract, subsequent quarterly payments will be directed to the loan with the next highest priority. See a full list of the loan priority order.

 

Overview

  • Extramural LRP renewal awards can be one- or two-years.
  • The calculations below are approximations and for example purposes only.
  • Renewal award applicants must have eligible educational debt of at least $2,000 at the contract start date to apply for a renewal award.
  • Payments are made on a quarterly basis, starting with the highest priority loan per DLR guidelines. See a full list of the loan priority order.
  • If a loan is paid-in-full before the end of a contract, subsequent quarterly payments will be directed to the loan with the next highest priority.

One-Year Renewal Awards

  • The repayment amount is equal to one-half of the eligible educational debt at the contract start date, up to $35,000 per year.
  • If the eligible educational debt at the contract start date is less than $10,000, then the repayment amount is equal to the full amount of the remaining eligible debt. For example, if the eligible educational debt at the contract start date is $9,999, then the repayment amount is $9,999.

Two-Year Renewal Awards

  • In year one, the repayment amount is equal to one-half of the eligible educational debt at the contract start date, up to $35,000.
  • In year two, the repayment amount is equal to one-half of the year-one repayment, up to $35,000. For example, if the eligible educational debt is $50,000 at the contract start date, then the repayment amount in the first year of renewal is $25,000 and the repayment amount in the second year of renewal is $12,500.
  • If the eligible educational debt at the contract start date is less than $10,000, then applicants will only be considered for a one-year renewal award.

There is no limit on the number of renewal awards an LRP awardee can receive. Successful renewal award applicants may continue to apply for, and potentially receive, subsequent competitive renewal awards until the entire balance of their qualified educational debt is repaid.

 

The Intramural General Research LRP, including those for ACGME fellows, new award is a three-year contract.

  • For the competitive General Research LRP, the repayment amount is equal to one-quarter of the eligible educational debt, up to $35,000, per year. To receive the maximum repayment of $105,000 for the three-year new award from the General Research LRP, an applicant must have at least $140,000 in eligible educational debt at the contract start date.
  • For the non-competitive General Research LRP for ACGME Fellows, the repayment amount is equal to one-quarter of the eligible educational debt, up to $17,000, per year. To receive the maximum repayment of $51,000 for the three-year award from the General Research LRP for ACGME fellows, an applicant must have at least $68,000 in eligible educational debt at the contract start date.

 

All Intramural Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Research LRP and AIDS Research LRP new awards are two years. The repayment amount is equal to one-quarter of the total eligible debt, up to $35,000, for each year of the award. To receive the maximum amount of $70,000 for a two-year award, an applicant must have at least $140,000 in eligible educational debt at the contract start date.

Payments are made on a quarterly basis, starting with the loan with the highest priority per NIH guidelines. If a loan is paid-in-full before the end of the contract, subsequent quarterly payments will be directed to the loan with the next highest priority.

See a full list of the loan priority order.

 

All Intramural LRP renewal awards are one year. The repayment amount is equal to one-half of the eligible educational debt, up to $35,000. If the eligible educational debt at the contract start date is less than $10,000, then the repayment amount is equal to the full amount of the eligible educational debt. For example, if the eligible educational debt at the contract start date is $9,999, then the repayment amount is $9,999.

Renewal applicants must have remaining eligible educational debt of at least $2,000 to apply for a renewal.

Payments are made on a quarterly basis, starting with the loan with the highest priority per NIH guidelines. If a loan is paid-in-full before the end of a contract, subsequent quarterly payments will be directed to the loan with the next highest priority.

There is no limit on the number of renewal awards an LRP awardee can receive. Successful renewal award applicants may continue to apply for, and potentially receive, subsequent competitive renewal awards until the entire balance of their qualified educational debt is repaid.

See a full list of the loan priority order.

Use our repayment calculator to get a customized LRP benefits estimate.

 

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