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What are the five NIH extramural Loan Repayment Programs that I can apply to?

The five NIH extramural Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) include the Clinical Research LRP, Pediatric Research LRP, Contraception & Infertility Research LRP, Health Disparities Research LRP, and Clinical Research LRP for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds.

What is qualified clinical research?

Clinical research is defined by NIH as patient-oriented 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, epidemiologic or behavioral studies, outcomes or health services research, or developing new technologies, therapeutic interventions, or clinical trials.

What is qualified pediatric research?

Research that is directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children, including pediatric pharmacology.

What is qualified health disparities research?

Basic, clinical, or behavioral research on a health disparity population (including individual members and communities of such populations), including the causes of health disparities and methods to prevent, diagnose, and treat such disparities.

What is qualified contraception and infertility research?

Infertility research has the long-range objectives of evaluating, treating, or ameliorating conditions that result in the failure of couples to either conceive or bear young. Contraception research has the ultimate goal of providing new or improved methods of preventing pregnancy.

What is the definition of “disadvantaged background”?

An individual from a disadvantaged background is defined as one who comes from a family with an annual income below a level based on low-income thresholds according to family size published by the U.S. Census Bureau, adjusted annually for the changes in the Consumer Price Index, and adjusted by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Secretary) for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels in the Federal Register.

To meet this low-income requirement you must demonstrate your disadvantaged status by submitting (1) a written statement from your former school(s) where you qualified for Federal disadvantaged assistance, (2) verification of receipt of loans from either the Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL) or Loans for Disadvantaged Student Program, or (3) verification of a scholarship from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need.

What does NIH require of participants?

In return for loan repayments, LRP participants are legally bound to a service obligation to conduct qualifying research supported by a domestic nonprofit or U.S. government (federal, state, or local) entity for 50 percent of their time (at least 20 hours per week based on a 40-hour week) for two years. NIH makes quarterly loan repayments concurrent with the participants’ satisfaction of their service obligation.

How can I apply to the LRPs?

Applications must be submitted online through the LRP website, www.lrp.nih.gov. 

Can I apply based on research already completed?

No. The LRPs are not retroactive.

How do I know if my LRP application should be for a new or renewal contract?

You can use the guidelines below as a general rule. If you have questions on your specific situation, please call the NIH Division of Loan Repayment (DLR) Information Center at (866) 849-4047.

You should apply for a new LRP contract if:
  • You are applying to the NIH LRPs for the first time.
  • You have applied before but were not awarded an LRP contract.
  • You are applying under a different LRP than one you may have received in the past.
  • It has been more than 5 years since your prior contract ended.
  • You had a prior new LRP contract that was terminated during its first year.
You should apply for a renewal LRP contract if:
  • You received a prior LRP award within the last five years and you are applying under the same LRP program. For example: you received an award under the extramural Clinical Research LRP and are again applying under the extramural Clinical Research LRP.
  • Your LRP contract was terminated after the first year; however, significant progress was made in your research (please contact the Information Center for more information).

How are LRP payments calculated? What will my payments be?

Payment projections are based on your repayable debt calculated at the start of your LRP contract. The NIH will repay 25 percent of your repayable debt, up to a maximum of $35,000 per year. Payments will be made on a quarterly basis during the LRP contract period. Please note that you will receive the maximum of $35,000 per year only if your repayable debt is equal to or greater than $140,000. To estimate how much student loan debt can be repaid, review more information about the loan repayment process and/or use the LRP Repayment Estimator tool.

How are LRP payments made?

NIH issues quarterly payments directly to your lenders to repay principal, interest, and qualified related expenses. NIH prioritizes the order in which loans are repaid. See the Loan Repayment Process for more information.

Are LRP payments taxable?

Yes. Loan payments are considered taxable income. To address that tax liability, NIH makes tax payments directly to participants' IRS tax accounts at the rate of 39 percent of the loan repayment amounts (an additional tax payment at the rate of 7.5% of the loan repayment amount is also made to cover social security and FICA taxes for intramural LRP participants only).

How are applicants selected for LRP awards?

The NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) each convene peer review groups of scientists from outside NIH to review the applications most closely aligned with the IC’s mission. Reviewers are asked to consider 1) the potential of the applicant to pursue a career in research and 2) the quality of the applicant’s overall research environment as preparation for a research career. This is a competitive review.

How many applicants will actually be funded?

The number of LRP awards varies each year. The average number of new and renewal awards in past years has been approximately 1,600. Please see the Reports and Statistics section of the website for additional information about trends in LRP applications and awards.

When will applicants be notified about their awards?

LRP applicants will receive notice of award funding by September following the application deadline.

Will the Loan Repayment Program be offered next year?

Yes, NIH plans to continue the LRPs in the next fiscal year. NIH is dependent upon the receipt of an appropriation from Congress for all of its programs.

If my research will likely qualify me for more than one LRP, how do I decide which LRP to pursue?

Seek the advice of your research supervisor, mentor, or other colleagues who best understand your research and career goals. You may also consult with the LRP liaison at the NIH IC most closely affiliated with your research. Refer to the list of LRP Liaisons, which also includes descriptions of each IC’s mission and research priorities, for more information.

Is it possible to change employers, research projects, or laboratories during the LRP contract?

Yes, but if you change labs or employers, NIH will reassess your continued eligibility for LRP payments. See the Change of Institution section for more information.

Where can I get more information?

For the online application, deadline dates, and other information, visit the LRP website, www.lrp.nih.gov. For additional assistance, contact the LRP Information Center at (866) 849-4047 or lrp@nih.gov.



Date Last Updated: February 13, 2014


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