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Service Obligations

Home > FAQs > Service Obligations

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Under what circumstances will NIH consider early release from the service obligation?

Early termination of a service obligation will not be considered a breach of contract in cases where such termination is beyond the control of the participant. For example, sometimes a participant's research assignment changes to the extent that the project is no longer qualified research. Similarly, sometimes the needs of the supporting institution demand that the participant be reassigned to another project. However, an individual who voluntarily terminates his/her research activities to pursue private practice is in breach of the LRP contract.

What is the penalty for participants found in breach of contract?

The penalty for breaching the LRP contract is $7,500 for each month of unserved service, plus all amounts paid on behalf of the participant for any period of obligated service not served. Interest shall be charged on the amount owed to NIH from the date of breach. The amount the U.S. government is entitled to recover shall not be less than $31,000.

What is the penalty for participants found in breach of contract who are fulfilling a one- or two-year renewal of the original LRP contract?

There is no penalty for terminating a renewal contract early. Loan repayments will be prorated and terminated as of the date the research work stops, but the participant will be entitled to payments up to that date and no penalties will be assessed.

How does NIH know whether a participant is fulfilling his or her agreement to complete at least 20 hours of research work per week?

NIH requires your research supervisor to verify that you are meeting the terms of your contract on a quarterly basis. Your loan repayment disbursement will not be released until your research supervisor provides this verification.

Do I have to stay at the same institution for the two years of the LRP Contract? I am currently on a fellowship that will be ending during the contract period.

During the initial two-year period and subsequent renewal periods, the LRP awards are portable and may be transferred across institutions and research projects. You and your new research supervisor/institution will be required to provide updated information that will allow the NIH Institute or Center (IC) that funded the award to determine if your award is portable. In their review of continuing eligibility, the funding IC will assess the appropriateness of the research project, research environment, and mentoring plan, as well as reconfirm that basic eligibility conditions will be satisfied.

You must notify the NIH LRP of any changes to your research assignment and/or institution during the two-year period, and you will be provided with instructions on requesting NIH approval for the changes to your institution or research project. It is recommended that you advise us of these changes at least two months prior to their effective date, to allow sufficient processing time within NIH. Failure to provide the updated information may result in termination of your LRP contract.

The portability of your award is not guaranteed. If you are unable to establish qualifying research assignments for the two-year period, you should consider reapplying when you are in a better position to comply with the contract provisions. Loan repayment is expected to be offered every year.

How do I find out if I have an outstanding service obligation?

You need to contact the institution that awarded you a grant, award, or scholarship with an associated service obligation to learn if there is a remaining obligation.

I currently have, or will have, a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) service obligation. Where can I find information on what I need to do to participate in one of the LRPs?

Please see the NRSA Service Obligation section of the website.

Date Last Updated: October 1, 2010

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