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VMLRP Glossary

List of terms pertaining to the VMLRP and a brief description for each term 

Act: refers to National Veterinary Medical Service Act, as amended.

Accredited college of veterinary medicine: For VMLRP purposes, this is defined as a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA COE.

Account Statement: This document typically provides the current loan balance, interest rate, and other information, including the account number and payment address. VMLRP accepts an account statement that is printed from a lender’s website.

Accrued Interest: Interest that has accumulated on the loan and is considered part of your qualified debt at the program eligibility date. If a loan is in repayment status, accrued interest is the amount of interest accumulated since the most recent payment. If a loan is not in repayment status, accrued interest is the amount accumulated since the original disbursement of the loan or since the beginning of a grace period, deferment, or forbearance.

Agency: refers to National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Applicant: An individual who applies to and meets the eligibility criteria for the VMLRP.

AVMA COE: American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education, a specialized accrediting agency recognized and authorized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Breach of agreement: A participant who fails to complete the service agreement obligation required under the terms and conditions of the agreement and will be subject to assessment of monetary damages and penalties as determined in the service agreement, unless a waiver has been granted or an exception applies.

Capitalization (capitalized interest): Unpaid interest that is added to the loan balance when a loan enters repayment status (e.g., after periods of school, deferment, or forbearance). This results in an increase in the size of the loan, and interest is charged on the new balance. Capitalized interest should not be reported to VMLRP combined with “accrued interest” since it is included in the principal balance reported by the lender.

Consolidation loan: Consolidation of multiple loans into a single loan, usually done to simplify payments or secure a lower interest rate. Individuals who consolidated their veterinary school loans with other educational loans (e.g., undergraduate) are allowed to apply for the VMLRP; however, only the eligible portion of the consolidation loan (veterinary school loans) will be repaid by the VMLRP.

Current payment status: A qualified educational loan that is not past due in its payment schedule as determined by the lending institution.

Debt threshold: The minimum amount of qualified student debt an individual must have, on the program eligibility date, to be eligible for VMLRP benefits, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture ($15,000).

Deferment: A period of time when a lender suspends payments on a loan. Deferment may be obtained or extended for a variety of reasons, including financial hardship or continuing education. Deferments vary by lender and by type of loan.

Delinquent Student Loans: A loan is considered delinquent when payments are late or missed. VMLRP will exclude all delinquent loans when determining “qualifying debt” and will not pay late fees.

Department: refers to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Disclosure Statement: A statement that provides the borrower with information on the actual cost of the loan, including the interest rate, origination, insurance, loan fees, and any other kinds of finance charges. Lenders are required to provide the borrower with a disclosure statement before issuing a loan. The VMLRP accepts a copy of this document in lieu of a promissory note to document qualified debt.

DVM: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, or equivalent.

Eligible Loans: Loans that are eligible for repayment by the VMLRP. See Eligibility section for details on eligible loans.

Food animal: Bovine, porcine, ovine/camelid, cervid, poultry, caprine, and any other species as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.

Food supply veterinary medicine: All aspects of veterinary medicine's involvement in food supply systems, from traditional agricultural production to consumption.

Forbearance: A period in which a lender suspends regular loan payments. Interest charges accumulate and are added to the loan balance at the end of the forbearance period. Forbearance is usually granted for financial hardship. The VMLRP will repay the interest charges that accumulate while a loan is in forbearance prior to the program eligibility date.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE): the number of working hours that represents one full-time employee during a fixed time period. For VMLRP this equates to a 40-hour work week.

Grace Period: A period after graduation/separation from school during which the borrower is not required to make student loan payments. See “forbearance,” “deferment,” and “service obligation.”

Ineligible Loans: Loans that do not meet VMLRP criteria for “eligible loans” are ineligible for VMLRP consideration. This includes non-DVM loans, loans consolidated with another individual’s loan (including a spouse or child), home equity loans, personal loans, defaulted loans, and loans received from family or friends. See Eligibility section for details on ineligible loans.

Insular area: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Virgin Islands of the United States.

Master Promissory Note (MPN): A contract that borrowers sign when taking out subsidized or unsubsidized Stafford loans. When submitting a MPN to VMLRP, applicants are required to include additional documents that list loan amounts and dates for all disbursements from the NSLDS website.

NSLDS: National Student Loan Database System (, a central database for student aid operated by the U.S. Department of Education.

NVMSA: National Veterinary Medicine Service Act.

Payment Verification: When a VMLRP payment is made to a lender on a participant’s behalf, the participant is required to submit an updated account statement from the lender (or the lender’s website) that shows the payment amount and the resulting account balance.

Practice of food supply veterinary medicine: Includes corporate/private practices devoted to food animal medicine, mixed animal medicine located in a rural area (at least 30 percent of practice devoted to food animal medicine), food safety, epidemiology, public health, animal health, and other public and private practices that contribute to the production of a safe and wholesome food supply.

Practice of veterinary medicine: To diagnose, treat, correct, change, alleviate, or prevent animal disease, illness, pain, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical, dental, or mental conditions by any method or mode; including:

  1. The prescription, dispensing, administration, or application of any drug, medicine, biologic, apparatus, anesthetic, or other therapeutic or diagnostic substance or medical or surgical technique, or
  2. The use of complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies, or
  3. The use of any manual or mechanical procedure for reproductive management, or
  4. The rendering of advice or recommendation by any means including telephonic and other electronic communications with regard to any of paragraphs (1), (2), (3), or (4) of this definition.

Program Eligibility Date: The date an individual's VMLRP agreement is executed by the Secretary of Agriculture.

Program participant: An individual whose application to the VMLRP has been approved and whose service agreement has been accepted and signed by the Secretary of Agriculture.

Promissory Note: The binding legal document that must be signed by the student borrower before loan funds are disbursed by the lender. The promissory note states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment schedule, interest rate, deferment policy, and cancellations. The borrower should keep this document until the loan has been repaid. The VMLRP relies on promissory notes, or disclosure statements, to determine the eligibility of a loan.

Qualifying Debt: The total eligible debt as of the program eligibility date, including interest that accrued on the loans prior to the program eligibility date. This amount does not include any penalties or late fees. The VMLRP will repay one-third of a participant’s qualifying debt (up to $25,000) for each year of VMLRP participation during the initial three-year contract.

Qualifying educational expenses: Costs of attendance of the applicant at a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA Council on Education, exclusive of the tuition and reasonable living expenses. Educational expenses may include fees, books, laboratory expenses and materials, as required by an accredited college or school of veterinary medicine as part of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program, or the equivalent.

Qualifying educational loans: Loans that are issued by any Federal, State, or local government entity, accredited academic institution(s), and/or commercial lender(s) that are subject to examination and supervision in their capacity as lending institutions by an agency of the United States or the State in which the lender has its principal place of business. Loans must have been made for one or more of the following: School tuition, other qualifying educational expenses, or reasonable living expenses relating to the obtainment of a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from a college or school of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA Council on Education.

Reasonable living expenses: The ordinary living costs incurred by the program participant while attending the college of veterinary medicine, exclusive of tuition and educational expenses. Reasonable living expenses must be incurred during the period of attendance and may include food and lodging expenses, insurance, commuting and transportation costs. Reasonable living expenses must be equal to or less than the sum of the school's estimated standard student budgets for living expenses for the degree of veterinary medicine for the year(s) during which the program participant was enrolled in the school.

Recommenders: Individuals who can speak to an applicant’s capability to fulfill VMLRP obligations. They may be veterinarians, producers, or anyone the applicant works with in the food animal industry. Recommenders should be selected based on the nature of the case the applicant plans to make in his/her personal statement.

Rural area: Any area other than a city or town that has a population of 50,000 inhabitants and the urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to such a city or town.

Secretary: The Secretary of Agriculture and any other officer or employee of the Department to whom the authority involved has been delegated.

Service agreement: The agreement for the VMLRP wherein the applicant agrees to accept repayment of qualifying educational loans and to serve in accordance with the provisions of NVMSA for a prescribed period of obligated service.

Service area: Geographic area the veterinarian will be providing veterinary medical services.

Service Obligation: In exchange for loan repayment from the VMLRP, participants are required to provide qualified veterinary services in a designated veterinary shortage area for their contract period. Applicants with any remaining “outside” service obligations (other than to the VMLRP) must complete those commitments before they are eligible to apply for the VMLRP.

Service Verification: Service verification is completed on a quarterly basis from the participant’s employer. In the case of a participant who is a sole practitioner (self-employed), self-certification will be required. As the source of loan repayment, NIFA will have oversight discretion to request additional validation of service agreement compliance as deemed necessary or to conduct site visits to awardee locations to determine if terms and conditions of the VMLRP agreement are being met. Service verification is a required step before scheduled loan repayments are released to the lenders on the participants’ behalf.

State: means any one of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the insular areas of the United States. Also included are total “Federal Lands”, defined for convenience as a single entity.

State Animal Health Official (SAHO): The State veterinarian, or equivalent, who will be responsible for nominating and certifying veterinarian shortage situations within the State.

Tax Payments: Loan repayments made by the VMLRP are taxable income to participants. To partially offset the increase in income tax liability that result from the VMLRP award, VMLRP makes a federal tax payment equal to 39 percent of the loan payment directly to the participant's IRS tax account each time a loan payment is made on their behalf. Both loan and tax payments are reported after the end of the calendar year and a 1099-G form is mailed to participants no later than January 31 of the following calendar year. Participants are responsible for paying the remainder of their federal tax liability, as well as any applicable state and local taxes that result from their VMLRP income.

Termination: A waiver of the service obligation granted by the Secretary of Agriculture when compliance by the participant is not possible, would involve extreme hardship, or where enforcement with respect to the individual would be unconscionable.

Veterinarian: A person who has received a professional veterinary medicine degree from a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA Council on Education.

Veterinary Medicine: All branches and specialties included within the practice of veterinary medicine.

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP): Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program authorized by the NVMSA.

Veterinary Shortage Situation: any of the following situations in which the Secretary, in accordance with the process in Subpart A of the Interim Final Rule, determines has a shortage of veterinarians:

  • Geographical areas that the Secretary determines have a shortage of food supply veterinarians; and
  • Areas of veterinary practice that the Secretary determines have a shortage of food supply veterinarians, such as food animal medicine, public health, animal health, epidemiology, and food safety.

Withdrawal: A request by a participant for withdrawal from participation in the VMLRP after signing the service agreement, but prior to VMLRP making the first quarterly payment on behalf of the participant. A withdrawal is without penalty to the participant and without obligation to the Program.

Contact Information

For further information contact: VMLRP


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