National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Researchers

To attract and retain health professionals to clinical research careers by offering educational loan repayment for participants who agree by written contract to engage in clinical research in a qualifying nonprofit institution for a minimum of 2 years.

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

942 awards were made in fiscal year 2005. NIH projects that 935 awards will be made in fiscal year 2006 and 2007.

Uses and Use Restrictions

To provide repayment of extant educational loans incurred by health professionals engaged in clinical research in a qualified nonprofit institution or Federal or other domestic government agency (State, local), and in research that is supported by a nonprofit foundation, nonprofit professional association, or other nonprofit entity, or a Federal or other domestic government agency (State, local).

Recipients must agree by written contract to engage in such research, initially, for a minimum of 2 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.

Participants may apply for and the Secretary may grant extension contracts for one-year or two-year periods, as determined by the Secretary, if the individual continues to engage in qualifying research.

Renewal applications are competitively reviewed and the submission of a renewal application does not assure the award of benefits.

The maximum program benefit is $35,000 per year in loan repayments and $13,650 per year in Federal tax reimbursements, plus discretionary State and local 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

(1) A U.S.

citizen, U.S.

national, or permanent resident of the United States; (2) Have a Ph.D., M.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.P.M., Pharm.D., D.C., N.D., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited institution; (3) Have total qualifying educational loan debt equal to or in excess of 20 percent of their institutional base salary on the date of program eligibility (the effective date that a loan repayment contract has been executed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services or designee); (4) Conduct qualifying research supported by a domestic nonprofit foundation, nonprofit professional association, or other nonprofit institution, or a U.S.

or other government agency (State or local); (5) Engage in qualified clinical research.

Clinical research is patient-oriented clinical 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, or epidemiologic or behavioral studies, outcomes research or health services research, or developing new technologies, therapeutic interventions, or clinical trials; (6) Engage in qualified clinical research for at least 50 percent of their time, i.e., not less than 20 hours per week based on a 40 hour week; (7) Agree to conduct research for which funding is not prohibited by Federal law, regulation, or HHS/NIH policy, and in accordance with applicable Federal, State and local law (e.g., applicable human subject protection regulations); and (8) Sign and submit to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, at the time of application submission, a contract agreeing to engage in clinical research in a qualifying institution for a minimum of 2 years.

Full-time employees of Federal Government agencies are ineligible to apply for LRP benefits.

Part-time Federal employees who engage in qualifying research as part of their nonfederal duties for at least 20 hours per week based on a 40 hour week, and who are not compensated as a Federal employee for their research, are eligible to apply for loan repayment if they meet all other eligibility requirements.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Health professionals who are interested in pursuing clinical research careers and who have unpaid educational loans will benefit from this program.


Applicants electronically transmit the following documents to the NIH: Applicant Information Statement, Biosketch, Personal Statement, Description of Research Activities, 3 Recommendations, Loan Information including current account statement(s) and promissory note(s) or disclosure statement(s), Assessment of Research Activities Statement (completed by the research supervisor), and Description of the Research Environment (completed by the research supervisor), Training or Mentoring Plan (completed by the research supervisor). Institutional Contacts electronically transmit a certification that: (a) assures the applicant will be provided the necessary time and resources to engage in the research project for two years from the date a Loan Repayment Program Contract is executed; (b) assures that the applicant is or will be engaged in qualifying research for 50 percent of their time (or not less than 20 hours per week based on a 40 hour week); (c) certifies that the institution is nonprofit (exempt from tax under 26 USC 501), and (d) provides the applicant's institutional base salary.

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 via the website Applications submitted to the NIH Division of Loan Repayment are first examined to determine if the basic eligibility requirements are satisfied. If these requirements are met, the application is forwarded to the NIH Center for Scientific Review for a determination regarding which NIH Institute or Center the application will be assigned to for review, scoring, and ranking.

Award Procedures

The NIH Institutes and Centers approve or disapprove applications for participation in the Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Researchers. When an Institute or Center approves an application, the NIH Office of Loan Repayment notifies individuals of their award amount, provides a repayment schedule that covers the period of participation, and a Loan Repayment Program Contract is executed by an authorized representative of the Secretary, DHHS. If the approved research assignment changes, or if the employing research institution changes, the participant must have their continued eligibility re- certified by the Institute or Center which approved their application. Contact the NIH via e-mail at LRP@NIH.GOV for further guidance.


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


Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part G, Section 487F; Public Law 106-505; 42 U.S.C. 288-5a.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

The approximate time for approval/disapproval is 6 months from the closing date of the annual application period.




At the conclusion of the initial 2-year contract, participants may apply and be considered for subsequent 1 or 2-year continuation contracts under the application and approval procedures specified above. Eligible renewal applications that score within the funding range receive continuation contracts.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no formula or matching requirements.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Assistance is available for a minimum 2-year period. One or 2-year continuation contracts are available. 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 by their research supervisor to have been engaged in the qualifying research project for a minimum 50 percent effort (not less than 20 hours per week based on a 40 hour week) during the service period.




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 $42,202,000; FY 08 est not available; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

For initial two-year contract periods, loan repayments awards may range from $2,298 to $70,000; Tax reimbursements range from $1,040 to $31,679. The average cost which includes loan and tax reimbursement is $48,718.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Pertinent information is contained in Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part G, Section 487F, Public Law 106-505, 42 USC 288-5a. The NIH LRP-CR was initially announced by publication of a Notice in the Federal Register (Vol. 66, No. 173), and updated in Federal Register (Vol. 68, No. 61).

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Not applicable.

Headquarters Office

Program and Business Contact: Alfred C. Johnson, Ph.D., Division of Loan Repayment, National Institutes of Health, 6011 Executive Blvd., Room 206, MSC 7650, Bethesda, MD 20892-7650. LRP Helpline: (866) 849-4047. Facsimile: (866) 849-4046. Email: .

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The NIH Institutes and Centers approve or disapprove applications for participation in the Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Researchers. Applications that are on time, complete and eligible are referred to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center by the NIH Center for Scientific Review. The NIH Institutes and Centers convene panels comprised of non-NIH scientists to review, score and rank applications. In evaluating the application, reviewers are directed to consider the following components as they relate to the likelihood that the applicant will continue in a research career: (1) potential of the applicant to pursue a career in research, and (2) quality of the overall environment to prepare the applicant for a research career.

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