Student loan debt is the barrier to beginning and sustaining a biomedical research career most often reported by new investigators. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is working to make this transition easier. In exchange for a commitment to conduct biomedical or behavioral research, NIH will repay up to $70,000 of student loan debt per 2-year contract through the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs).
Who Can Apply for the LRP?
To qualify, you need to have your terminal level degree, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have educational loan debt that is at least 20 percent of your annual income, and commit to conduct research for at least 20 hours/week (for the entirety of your LRP contract) at a domestic nonprofit, university, or government organization. There are five extramural NIH LRPs to choose from, depending on the focus of your research. All applicants will need an NIH eRA Commons ID to apply using the LRP online application (due November 15, 2018). If awarded, NIH will repay up to $70,000 over 2 years in educational loans, along with most federal taxes. You can continue to apply for competitive renewal LRPs (1- or 2-year contracts) until your debt is paid off.
About 50 percent of LRP applications are funded each year (see the LRP Dashboard for more details). There’s no limit on how many times an individual can apply, so researchers who were not successful in getting funded are strongly encouraged to reapply. There’s also no limit on the number of LRP awards an individual can receive. In fact, many researchers have had all their student loan debt repaid by the NIH LRPs (over several awards).
Does NCCIH Participate in the LRP?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) participates in the Clinical Research LRP (patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects) and the Pediatric Research LRP (research directly related to diseases, disorders, and other health conditions in children). NCCIH supports research on mind and body interventions, practices, and disciplines; research on natural products; and studies of “real world” patterns and outcomes in the use of complementary and integrative approaches. Applicants who submit their LRP application to NCCIH must have a research project aligned with the NCCIH Strategic Plan. We encourage all eligible applicants with doctoral or clinical degrees (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., N.D., D.A.O.M., D.C., D.O., D.N.P.) who are actively pursuing research careers to apply to the LRP. Applicants who only have masters-level degrees or certifications or those pursuing strictly clinical careers are not eligible for the LRP program.
Get Started on Your Application
Visit www.lrp.nih.gov for more details and to apply. For general LRP questions, call or e-mail the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. ET. You can follow the NIH Division of Loan Repayment on Twitter and Facebook for more information and cycle updates, and check out the LRP Ambassador Program to connect with past and present LRP awardees. You can also contact me at email@example.com to discuss research priority areas for NCCIH.