News Release

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

NIH Helps Advance Research Careers Through Student Loan Repayment Programs

Over Two Years, Programs Offer to Pay Up to $70,000 of Scientists' Educational Debt; New Application Cycle Opens September 1.

NIH fosters the careers of thousands of scientific researchers through its extramural Loan Repayment Programs (LRP). The LRP's two-year award repays up to $35,000 per year of educational loan debt for individuals who commit to conducting two years of qualified biomedical or behavioral research at a nonprofit or government institution. The five extramural LRPs are Clinical Research, Pediatric Research, Health Disparities Research, Contraception and Infertility Research, and Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds. The 2010 application cycle opens Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 1.

Each year, approximately 1,600 research scientists benefit from the more than $70 million NIH invests in their careers through extramural LRPs. On average, nearly 40 percent of all new LRP applications are funded, and the awards are renewable.

"Medical school graduates are often overwhelmed by student loan debt, and through this financial assistance, we provide professionals with the opportunity to pursue careers of their choice," said Sherry Mills, M.D., M.P.H., acting director of the NIH Division of Loan Repayment. "Our program is a key component in retaining and growing a wide-ranging pool of clinical researchers."

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average loan debt of medical school graduates in the class of 2008 was $154,607. The NIH started this program in 2001, and since its inception, NIH has made approximately 7,500 awards that total more than $347 million in loan repayment funds.

Initial evaluation has shown that participants in this program stay in research careers longer, apply for and receive more research grants, and become independent investigators more frequently than their peers who do not receive LRP funding. During the 2009 application cycle, applicants said that their mentors and colleagues were key to making them aware of and encouraging them to apply to the program.

To qualify for the LRPs, applicants must generally possess a doctoral-level degree (with the exception of the Contraception and Infertility Research LRP); devote at least 20 hours per week to qualifying research funded by a domestic nonprofit organization or federal, state, or local government entity; have qualifying educational loan debt equal to or exceeding 20 percent of their institutional base salary; and be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident.

Visit for more details and to apply.

The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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