16 Nov Colorado expands student loan relief grant for rural practitioners; applications close December 31
A state of Colorado program that helps pay off student loan debt for veterinarians who practice in under-served areas was expanded by the legislature this spring with additional funding and participant seats. Applications are being accepted through December 31, 2023. Applicants can apply online here.
The Veterinary Education Loan Repayment Program (VELRP) was signed into law in 2017 and provided up to $70,000 to pay off student loan debt to veterinarians who agreed to serve in a rural, underserved area of the state for up to four years. Funding was provided to two veterinarians, Dr. Kayle Austin and Dr. Callie Kuntz.
This spring, the legislature passed amendments to the law through Senate Bill 44. The legislation expanded the available funding to accommodate six veterinarians who can receive up to $90,000 each for working in rural communities with food animal medicine needs. Sponsors of the bill were Sen. Joann Ginal, Sen. Rod Pelton, Rep. Karen McCormick and Rep. Ty Winter.
Preference is given to applicants who graduated from Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The program is overseen by the VELRP Council, which selects the participants, is appointed by the governor, and supported by CSU administrative staff. The current council members are:
- Chair: Scott Johnson, Flying Diamond Ranch
- Vice-chair: Dr. Kayla Henderson, Colorado Veterinary Medical Association
- Dr. Melinda Frye, associate dean of the DVM Program at the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
- Dr. Morgan McCarty, representative of the State Commissioner of Agriculture
- Dr. John Raftopoulos, Colorado Livestock Industry
The debt payoffs are phased under the following terms:
- Upon completion of six months of the first year of service under the program, up to $15,000
- Upon completion of a second year of service under the program, up to an additional $20,000
- Upon completion of a third year of service under the program, up to an additional
- Upon completion of a fourth year of service under the program, up to an additional $30,000
Questions about the program can be sent to Jon Stocking at [email protected].
Information for applicants
Each year, the council selects up to six qualified veterinary applicants to participate in the program. The number of applicants that the council may choose in a given year is dependent on the amount of money available in that year.
To be eligible for the program, an applicant must meet the following qualifications:
- Be a licensed veterinarian who:
- Agrees, in the format and manner determined by the council, to practice veterinary medicine in a designated veterinary shortage area.
- Currently live in Colorado or, at some point, have lived in Colorado for at least three years and:
- Have an outstanding education loan that was incurred in relation to the applicant’s attendance at an accredited Doctor of Veterinary Medicine school located in the United States; for which the applicant is not in default; and has not been consolidated with any loans incurred by a spouse.
- An applicant selected for the loan repayment program:
- Is eligible for an amount up to $90,000 pursuant to the maximum yearly repayment amounts; and that correlates to the applicant’s outstanding veterinary education loans.
- Shall contract with the council to provide veterinary medical services in one or more designated veterinary shortage areas for a period up to four years.
- In establishing the applicant eligibility criteria for loan repayment under the program, the council will consider the following factors:
- An applicant’s training with respect to, ability to provide, and willingness to engage in, food animal veterinary medicine and the extent to which the designated veterinary shortage area needs food animal veterinary medical services.
- An applicant’s commitment to practice veterinary medicine in the designated veterinary shortage area.
- An applicant’s date of availability to practice veterinary medicine in the designated veterinary shortage area.
- An applicant’s competence, as determined by the state board of veterinary medicine and ability to fulfill the duties identified in the application.
- The council will give priority to eligible applicants who:
- Have graduated from Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
- With respect to a designated veterinary shortage area:
- Have lived in the veterinary shortage area or a nearby area;
- Have family in the veterinary shortage area or a nearby area; or
- Live, or have lived, in a substantially similar rural area of the state.
Applicants can apply online here.