Rural Veterinarian Loan Forgiveness Program

The application cycle for FY2017 is now open. It will close at 5 p.m. on Monday, January 4, 2016.

No, there's not a shortage of veterinarians. It's a distribution problem (article in the Dairyherd Network and interview on AgriTalk)

Who's Minding the Animals? (article on the University of Minnesota Alumni Association website)

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has scholarship and grant information.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program may be accepting applications.


Guidelines for the Minnesota Rural Veterinarian Loan Forgiveness Program

Applications will be open November 1, 2015 through January 4, 2016.

Program Purpose
The purpose of Minnesota’s Rural Veterinarian Loan Forgiveness program is to recruit and retain large animal/food animal veterinarians to needed areas and facilities within Minnesota. Loan forgiveness is an important benefit for veterinarians as well as rural communities experiencing a shortage of access to large animal/food animal veterinarians.

Program Administration and Funding
The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC), Minnesota Department of Health administers this program under contract with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. It is funded by the State of Minnesota. Program eligibility requirements and benefits are established by state statute, 136A.1795 authorizing the rural veterinarian loan forgiveness program.

Participant Eligibility and Application
This program is offered to students enrolled in the veterinarian degree/DVM program and making satisfactory progress in the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota; or veterinarians who have been awarded a veterinary medicine degree/DVM within three years of submitting an application, from the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota. 

To be eligible, a prospective participant must submit an application to the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC) during the application cycle (November 1, 2015 to January 4, 2016). Preference is given to applicants closest to completing their training, including students and practicing veterinarians.

Loan Eligibility
The Loan Forgiveness Program provides funds for repayment of qualified educational loans for rural veterinarians. Applicants are responsible for securing their own educational loans. Qualified loans include government, commercial and foundation loans for actual costs paid for tuition, reasonable education and living expenses related to the graduate or undergraduate education of a veterinarian.

This is a competitive selection process. Selections are made based on suitability for practice as indicated by personal and professional experience and training as noted on an application, as well as preference given to those closest to completing their training. A maximum of three awards will be made.

Service Obligation and Funding
Participants must plan to practice for at least 30 hours per week, for at least 45 weeks per year, for five years in a designated rural area and be involved at least 50 percent with the care of food animals. Food animals are defined as Cattle (Beef & Dairy), Goats, Pigs, Poultry and Sheep. A designated rural area as defined by Minnesota statute 136A.1795 as an area in Minnesota outside the counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington, excluding the cities of Duluth, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester and St. Cloud.

Participants must find a qualifying job and begin their service obligation under this program no later than March 31 following completion of their training. Participants must complete their veterinarian degree/DVM program as originally stated in their application.

Participants are required to participate for five years in the program serving as a veterinarian in a designated rural area. Currently practicing providers are eligible to apply but no credit can be given for service prior to signing a contract with the state. The ORHPC will make an annual payment to the participant in the amount of $15,000, not to exceed $75,000 total for the maximum five-year period or the balance of the designated loan(s), whichever is less.

Annual Reporting
Annually, the ORHPC will request participants to verify their employment and document that they have applied the loan forgiveness funds to their designated educational loan(s). This information will be verified prior to each annual disbursement. It is the decision of the participant to pay their loan servicer(s) with a lump sum payment, or make monthly payments that total the annual disbursement.

Income Tax Reporting
Loan forgiveness payments made to participants under the loan forgiveness program are considered exempt from federal and state income taxes. The State of Minnesota will not issue a 1099 form.

Temporary Suspension of Service
Service obligations may be suspended as a result of an illness, disability or temporary job transfer lasting less than a total of 12 months during the four-year commitment. All requests for temporary suspension of service must be in writing and substantiated by documentation acceptable by the state on a case by case basis. The agreement end date will be extended by the amount of time a participant is in suspension status. Suspensions cannot exceed twelve months.

Penalty for Non-fulfillment
If a participant does not fulfill the minimum obligation of five years of practice in a designated rural area in Minnesota, the participant will be required to repay the total amount ORHPC paid plus interest, at a rate established according to Minnesota Statutes 270C.40.

Updated Thursday, July 07, 2016 at 03:03PM