At long last, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program is a reality.
The "final rule" was published in the Federal Register yesterday. There is still an additional 60 day comment period, but this is, in effect, now the final implementation of the program. The justification and focus pertain to the shortage of rural, food animal-oriented veterinary practitioners, about which I've commented before (here and here, for example).
In brief, this program anticipates accepting applications from individuals it deems qualified as serving a veterinary shortage area. Student educational loan repayment of up to $25,000 per year is anticipated for 3 or 4 years (with an additional amount intended to compensate for the tax implications of the loan repayment). What constitutes a veterinary shortage area can be defined differently over time as state veterinarians propose what should be considered shortage areas. The clear intent, however, is that these areas will relate primarily to rural, agricultural animal needs (or, possibly, plausibly related needs such as animal health emergency, food safety, and diagnostic laboratory functions, for example).
At the end of the day, those who may benefit from this program will have to await more specificity from the USDA as to exact implementation, but finally this program is a reality. Those of you who are interested in following the implementation of this program -- which anticipates the first applications to be submitted in about January of 2010 -- can do so at this web site.