Loan Repayment Program (LRP)

Group of medical personnel

Program Description

The congressionally mandated NIMHD Loan Repayment Program (LRP) offers loan repayment awards of up to $50,000 per year to health professionals with doctoral degrees (e.g., M.D., D.D.S., Ph.D., Dr.P.H.). Awardees must conduct health disparities or clinical research in nonfederal research settings for at least two years. The program aims to increase the pool of highly qualified researchers who conduct health disparities research.

The program offers two loan repayment opportunities:

Typically, loans from college-, graduate-, and doctorate-level education are eligible for repayment. During the program, participants must spend at least 50 percent of their time, or 20 hours per week, engaged in research related to specific diseases, health conditions, and health issues applicable to health disparity populations or qualified clinical research or on research focused on understanding the underlying causes and consequences of health disparities or interventions to reduce or eliminate health disparities.

LRP recipients have conducted research on cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, asthma, obesity, and kidney disease. Their investigations have examined biological, lifestyle, environmental, social, economic, institutional, cultural, and family influences on health disparities.

Since its inception, the NIMHD LRP has repaid the student loans of more than 2,200 doctorate-level health professionals in a variety of disciplines, including medicine, epidemiology, psychology, social science, medicine, and health policy. Approximately 60 percent of LRP recipients are from minority populations as required by P.L. 106-525. (NOTE: The law requires no less than 50% be awarded to minority populations so this sentence reflects a conflation of two concepts.)

No applicant will be excluded from consideration on the basis of age, race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other non-merit factors.

Citizenship - You must be a U.S. citizen, U.S national, or permanent resident of the U.S. by the LRP award start date.

Qualifying Degree (Extramural programs only) - Possess an M.D., Ph.D., Pharm.D., Psy.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.P.M., D.C., N.D., O.D., D.V.M., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited institution. The exception is the Extramural Contraception and Infertility LRP, which also accepts certain master's degrees and certifications. See the Extramural Contraception and Infertility LRP page for additional details.

Qualified Educational Debt - You must have total qualified educational debt equal to or in excess of 20 percent of your institutional base salary at the time of award. Institutional base salary is the annual amount you are paid for your appointment, whether the time is spent on research, teaching, patient care, or other activities. Institutional base salary excludes any income that you may earn outside of the duties of the organization. It is not necessary for renewal applicants to satisfy the 20 percent debt-to-income requirement.

Qualified Research - You must agree to conduct only research that is not prohibited by Federal law, regulations, or policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or National Institutes of Health (NIH). If you receive an LRP award, you must conduct your research in accordance with applicable Federal, State, and local law (e.g., applicable human subject protection regulations) for the entire contract period. Additionally, you must engage in qualified research for an average of at least 20 hours per week during each quarterly service period of your LRP award.

Domestic, nonprofit research funding - Your research must be supported by a domestic, nonprofit foundation, university, professional association, or other nonprofit institution, or a U.S. government agency (Federal, State, or local). A domestic foundation, professional association, or institution is considered to be nonprofit if it is exempt from Federal tax under the provisions of Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501). NIH grants and university salaries are considered eligible funding. Your employment must be with a nonprofit institution.

Please read here for general eligibility requirements and Program details.

The application period is annually from September 1 through November 18, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Applications are submitted through LRP Online Application System (OAS). Learn more about the application process through the interactive roadmap and review the application tips available in Tips for Completing a Competitive Application. For additional assistance, call or email the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 or

Page updated November 11, 2021