04 Mar USDA identifies eight veterinary shortage areas in Colorado; applications now open for Veterinary Loan Repayment Program
Eight areas in Colorado have been identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as areas of veterinary service shortage areas for 2021.
To address these shortages, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) provides veterinarians up to $25,000 a year for student loan repayment in exchange for at least three years of service in one of the USDA-designated shortage areas. The program is overseen by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
The shortage areas identified in Colorado include:
- Baca, Bent, Kiowa, and Prowers counties
- Delta, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties
- Crowley, Otero, and Pueblo counties
- Elbert and Lincoln counties
- Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla counties
- Garfield, Mesa, and Rio Blanco counties
- Kit Carson, Washington, and Yuma counties
- Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties
All of the shortage areas listed above are classified as Type II Shortage: Private Practice — Rural Area Food Animal Medicine.
In total, the USDA declared 196 veterinary shortage areas in 41 states for 2021.
The VMLRP combats two of the biggest challenges to the veterinary profession – rural veterinary shortages and student debt. Student debt has a significant impact on the career choices of young veterinarians and is a major contributor to veterinary shortages, since veterinary salaries in rural areas are often lower than those in urban areas.
The VMLRP is one of CVMA and AVMA’s top legislative priorities; the AVMA advocacy team works diligently to ensure that Congress funds the program each year. The AVMA was able to secure an increase in funding that will allow the USDA to award more veterinarians this year. Since 2010, 1,632 veterinarians have applied to the VMLRP, and 552 have received VMLRP awards totaling nearly $52.2 million.
Veterinarians interested in applying for the VMLRP can apply for the program through April 16, 2021 at 4 p.m. CT. Click here to visit the USDA website to learn more about the application process.