Loan Repayment Program for General Research

To recruit and retain health professionals performing research in fields required by the NIH to carry out its mission by providing educational loan repayment for participants with substantial amounts of educational debt relative to income, who agree by written contract to engage in laboratory or clinical
research as employees of the NIH for a minimum 3-year period.

Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Implementation of studies on the mood and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents.

Evaluation of the effects of radiation-induced cell damage.

Identification of the specific and unique markers for the human marrow stromal fibroblasts (HMSFs) colonies which give rise to bone, at the DNA and protein levels.

Investigation of the molecular mechanisms responsible for RNA syntheses by RNA polymerase III; development of Human Artificial Chromosome Vectors for use in gene transfer studies; and application of gene transfer strategies to clinical manifestations of genetic diseases.

Agency - Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.

Website Address

Program Accomplishments

Sixty-nine awards were made in fiscal year 2007. NIH projects that 80 awards will be made in fiscal year 2008 and 80 awards are projected in fiscal year 2009.

Uses and Use Restrictions

To provide repayment of extant educational loans incurred by health professionals engaged, as employees of the NIH, in laboratory or clinical research.

Recipients must agree by written contract to engage in such research, initially, for a minimum of 3 years; individuals who have conflicting service obligations may not participate in this program until those obligations are satisfied or have been deferred during the period of program service.

Continuation contracts for 1-year terms are available, dependent upon the level of debt and continued involvement in research that supports the research and institutional needs and the mission of the NIH.

Maximum program benefit is $35,000 per year in loan repayments and $13,650 per year in Federal tax reimbursements.

Recipients must have qualified educational debt in excess of 20 percent of their annual salary, which is referred to as their "debt threshold." An amount equal to half of this "debt threshold" will not be repaid by NIH and must be paid by the program participants.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Eligible applicants must: (1) Be a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States; (2) possess a M.D., Ph.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.V.M., D.P.M., A.D.N., B.S.N., or equivalent degree, or hold the position of Physician Assistant; (3) have qualified educational debt, which results from governmental or commercial loans obtained to support their undergraduate and/or graduate education, in excess of 20 percent of their annual NIH salary on the program eligibility date; (4) be appointed to the NIH Intramural Research Program under any temporary or permanent employment mechanism, so long as the employment has the potential to last a minimum of three years; (5) not be under any existing service obligation to Federal, State, or other entities, until such obligation is discharged or unless it is deferred during the period of program service; (6) submit an application to participate in the Loan Repayment Program for General Research; and (7) sign and submit to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, at the time of application submission, a contract agreeing to engage in research as an employee of the NIH for a minimum of 3 years.

Beneficiary Eligibility

NIH researchers who possess substantial unpaid educational debt relative to income will benefit from this program.


Applicants must submit documentation of the following, as appropriate: (1) Copies of loan applications and agreements from government or commercial educational loans which are being submitted for repayment; (2) copies of the standard student budget from each school attended during the period in which the debt was incurred; and (3) other documentation as may be required.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Applicants must access and submit the Loan Repayment Program application electronically via the website; seek qualified employment with a sponsoring Institute or Center (IC) of the NIH. Once an application has been submitted, the Loan Repayment Committee reviews it at a regularly scheduled review meeting and a determination of loan repayment recipients is made.

Award Procedures

The NIH Loan Repayment Committee (LRC) will review, rank, and approve or disapprove applications recommended for program participation by each Institute or Center (IC). Applications approved for participation by the LRC will be notified by the Program Director. The Secretary, or his designee, will sign the service contract of program participants, provide a copy to the participant, and notice of the amount of approved loan repayment.


Review the Loan Repayment Program website, or contact the Headquarters Office listed below for the application deadlines.


Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part VI, Section 487C, as amended, Public Law 103-43, 42 U.S.C. 288-3, Public Law 105-392.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

The approximate time for approval/disapproval is 3 months.




At the conclusion of the initial 3-year contract, participants may apply and be considered for subsequent 1-year continuation contracts under the application and approval procedures specified above.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula or matching requirements.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Assistance is available for a minimum 3-year period. One-year continuation contracts are available for individuals whose educational debt exceeds the maximum repayable amount for 3 years. Payments will be made directly to lenders, following each quarter of the participant's satisfactory service, unless otherwise agreed upon by the participant and Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Post Assistance Requirements


Program participants must be periodically certified to have satisfactorily performed the duties of their positions.




The NIH will maintain applicant records for 3 years after rejection and participant records for 6 years after completion of final service obligation.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Loan Repayments) FY 07 $4,090,289; FY 08 est $4,767,520; and FY 09 est 4,767,520.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

For initial 3-year contracts, loan repayment awards may range from $12,600 to $105,000; Tax reimbursements range from $7,317 to $60,653. The average contract cost which includes loan and tax reimbursement is $97,502.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Pertinent information is contained in Public Law 103-43, Section 1631; Section 487C of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 288-3); Public Law 105-392; and Federal Register, Volume 59, No. 201, October 19, 1994. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is pending.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Not applicable.

Headquarters Office

Program and Business Contact: Patricia A. Cole, Ph.D., Director, Intramural Loan Repayment Programs, National Institutes of Health, Building 2, Room 2E18, Bethesda, MD 20892-0230. LRP Helpline Telephone: (866) 849-4047. Facsimile: 866-849-4046. Email:

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Applicants are approved for participation in the NIH General Research Loan Repayment Program after the LRC determines that the applicant will conduct qualified research and has qualifying educational debt. LRC approval, in part, is based upon the scientific merit of the research, its priority to the research institutes, and the credentials of the applicant.

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