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NCCIH Research Blog

Pursuing a Research Career? Apply for NIH Student Loan Repayment September 1–November 20, 2020!

September 11, 2020

Lanay M. Mudd, Ph.D.

Lanay M. Mudd, Ph.D.

Deputy Branch Chief

Clinical Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch

Program Director

Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

Student loan debt is the most often reported barrier to beginning and sustaining a biomedical research career. 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 $100,000 of student loan debt per 2-year contract through the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs). The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) encourages all eligible applicants, and particularly those from groups that are underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research, to apply.

How the LRPs Work

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 hrs/week (for the entirety of your LRP contract) at a domestic nonprofit, university, or government organization. Masters-level degrees or certifications, or those pursuing strictly clinical careers, are not eligible for the LRPs. 

There are five 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 20, 2020). If awarded, NIH will repay up to $100,000 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 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).


NCCIH participates in the Clinical Research LRP (patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects), the Pediatric Research LRP (research directly related to diseases, disorders, and other health conditions in children), and the Health Disparities Research LRP (research that focuses on minority health disparity populations). 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

Get Started on Your Application

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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