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NCCIH Research Blog

Lessening the Burden of Student Loans: Apply for NIH Student Loan Repayment September 1–November 17, 2022

July 21, 2022

Melissa Treviño, Ph.D.
Health Program Specialist
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Rising student loan debt is a common barrier for health professionals starting and sustaining a biomedical or biobehavioral research career. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs), which will repay up to $100,000 of qualified student loan debt for a 2-year award. The goal of the NIH LRPs is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals in research careers by lessening the burden of student loans. Want to know more? 


  • Program Goal: Encourage outstanding health professionals to pursue careers in biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research.
  • Eligibility: Citizenship, qualified educational debt (greater than 20 percent of base salary), and biomedical doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D.) including clinical doctoral degrees, or doctoral degree in complementary health practice (e.g., Ph.D., N.D., D.A.O.M., D.C., D.O., D.N.P.), or both.
  • Duration/Commitment: Up to 2 years.
  • Support: NIH may repay up to $50,000 of your qualified student loan debt per year, including most undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans. Loan repayment benefits are in addition to the institutional salary you receive for your research.

Who Can Apply for the LRPs?

  • 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 per week (for the entirety of your LRP contract) at a domestic nonprofit, university, or government organization. Masters-level degrees or certifications, or individuals pursuing strictly clinical careers, are not eligible for the LRPs. 
  • There are six different 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 17, 2022). If awarded, NIH will repay up to $50,000 annually 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 is 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 is 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 LRPs?

Yes. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) participates in the following four LRPs:

NCCIH supports research on natural products, mind and body practices, and/or multicomponent approaches. Applicants who submit their LRP applications to NCCIH must have a research project aligned with NCCIH’s mission, research priorities, and strategic plan

Helpful Resources To Get Started in Applying

Visit for more details and to apply. For general LRP questions, call or email the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 or, 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 to discuss research priority areas for NCCIH.


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