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Basic Eligibility Requirements

Home > FAQs > Basic Eligibility Requirements

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Who is eligible to apply for the LRPs?

Basic requirements include:
  • 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-level degree from an accredited institution.
  • Qualifying educational debt. The sum of your educational debt must equal at least 20 percent of your base salary from the institution supporting your research.
  • Conducting research funded by a domestic nonprofit or U.S. government (federal, state or local) entity. A domestic foundation, professional association, or institution is considered to be nonprofit if exempt from federal tax under the provisions of Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501).
  • Conducting qualifying research that represents 50 percent or more of total level of effort and consumes an average of at least 20 hours per week during each quarterly service period.
  • United States citizenship (or U.S. national or permanent resident status).

Who is not eligible to apply?

The following individuals are not eligible for the NIH Loan Repayment Programs:
  • Persons who are not U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents;
  • Anyone who has a federal judgment lien against his/her property arising from a federal debt, even if the judgment is paid in full or satisfied;
  • Anyone who owes an obligation of health professional service to a federal or state agency, or other entity during the proposed two-year LRP contract period, unless deferrals are granted for the length of LRP service obligation;
  • Full-time (and some part-time) federal employees [NOTE: Part-time federal employees (20 hours per week or less) engaged in research supported by a non-federal entity for at least 20 hours per week may be eligible];
  • Individuals conducting research for which funding is precluded by federal law, regulations, or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or NIH policy;
  • Individuals who lack qualifying support for their research from a domestic nonprofit or U.S. government (federal, state, or local) entity;
  • Individuals with insufficient educational debt relative to income (i.e., debt less than 20 percent of institutional base salary);
  • Individuals who breached a prior LRP contract;
  • Individuals whose prior LRP contract had been overpaid, were required to remit funds to NIH to resolve the overpayment, but still owe these funds;
  • Individuals who terminated a prior LRP contract that would have ended after the starting date of the contracts in the current application cycle.
See the Eligibility section of the website for more information.

Does my research qualify for the LRPs?

Each of the LRPs has a definition of qualified research, so first check the web pages specific to those programs. Links to each of the programs appear on the left side of this page, or access information about the LRPs through the About the Programs section. If you remain uncertain, consult your research supervisor or mentor. If you are still unsure, please e-mail or call the LRP liaison of the NIH Institute or Center (IC) most closely affiliated with your research using the information on the IC LRP Liaisons, Missions, and Research Priorities list.

Can I work for a for-profit entity or have a private practice if it is separate from my nonprofit research?

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.

Can I work for more than one nonprofit entity and still qualify?

Generally as long as your research is affiliated with your primary employer, your research is funded by a qualified domestic nonprofit entity, and you are conducting qualified research for a minimum of 20 hours per week averaged over the quarter. For example: You are an associate professor working 40 hours per week with 75% protected time for research. If in addition, you work 10 hours per week for a nonprofit, you would be eligible. However if you are an associate professor working 35 hours per week not engaged in research at the university and working for another nonprofit where you are engaged in 20 hours of research per week, you would not be eligible.

Can I conduct research on a volunteer basis for 20 hours per week and still qualify?

NIH discourages this, but ultimately your eligibility would depend on the specific circumstances. The NIH LRPs are for individuals who are committed to pursuing a career in research, and those individuals generally work full time at institutions where they are conducting research. In addition, each applicant is required to obtain institutional certification of support for their research. Often times this is not possible when conducting volunteer research. If awarded the LRP, you have a service obligation to work at least 20 hours per week for the full two years of the contract. Volunteering for research may not provide the stability to fulfill this commitment to NIH. Failure to do so may result in your being held in breach of contract.

Can I conduct my research outside of the United States?

You may conduct your research anywhere in the world as long as you meet all eligibility criteria described above and your research is supported entirely by domestic U.S. nonprofit funds, U.S. government grants, or a combination of the two.

Do I need to have my qualifying degree before I apply?

As long as you will receive your qualifying degree before the contract date of July 1, you may apply. You will be required to submit a letter from your school verifying that you will defend your dissertation and receive your degree by the contract date.

I have a pending application for a grant. Can I apply for LRP payments?

Applicants with pending grants will be considered. However, if the pending grant is your only source of funding, it must be funded before an LRP contract can be awarded, or some other funding must be documented.

I already have an NRSA training grant. Can I apply?

Yes. If you are applying based upon an NRSA award, you must submit PHS Form 2271 (Statement of Training Appointment) by fax to (866) 849-4046.

Can I receive loan repayments for more than two years?

Yes. If you continue to conduct qualified research and continue to receive funding from a qualified source, you may apply to renew your LRP contract in one- or two- year increments, for as long as it takes to repay all of your repayable debt.

Like new applications, renewals are competitive and are reviewed using the same criteria as applied to initial awards, plus two additional criteria. Renewals are also reviewed on (1) your research accomplishments and (2) your development as an independent investigator.

How do I find out if I have an outstanding service obligation?

You need to contact the institution that awarded you a grant, award, or scholarship with an associated service obligation to learn if there is a remaining obligation.

Can I apply for LRP payments based on research already completed?

No. LRPs are not retroactive.



Date Last Updated: October 22, 2012


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