Loan Repayment Programs

NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) are established by Congress to help recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. The LRPs counteract financial pressure by repaying up to $50,000 annually of a researcher's qualified educational debt (e.g., medical school debt) in return for a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research.

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General Information

  • Application window begins September 1 and ends November 17.
  • After the Center for Scientific Review assigns applications to NIH institutes and centers, NIAID’s Scientific Review Program (SRP) manages peer review of all LRP applications assigned to NIAID.
  • Applications are assigned overall impact scores based on the following criteria:
    • Applicant's potential to pursue a career in his or her research area.
    • Quality of applicant's research environment.
    • For renewals only, applicant's progress under the previous project period.
  • NIAID SRP reviews LRP applications assigned to NIAID before April.
  • NIH Division of Loan Repayment (DLR) performs financial vetting.
  • NIAID Office of Research Training and Special Programs (ORTSP) staff make final funding decisions before August 1.
  • NIH DLR notifies all funded applicants of their LRP awards and the NIAID Director signs LRP contracts in September.
  • Awardees can receive up to $50,000 a year plus 39 percent of the loan repayment amount to offset federal taxes. For more details, go to Taxes in the Award section of NIH's Division of Loan Repayment website.

Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs)

NIAID supports the following programs:

Clinical LRP (LRP-CR and LRP-IDB)
Pediatric LRP (LRP-PR)
  • The LRP-PR helps recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers as pediatric investigators.
  • You can apply even if you aren't a current NIH grantee.
  • You must be conducting pediatric research, defined as research that is directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children. Pediatric research does not need to involve human subjects.
  • Check the LRP-PR Opportunity Announcement, refer to the LRP Institute and Center (IC) Contacts and Mission Priorities, and learn more about NIH's Pediatric Research LRP.
Health Disparities LRP (LRP-HDR)
  • The LRP-PR helps recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into research careers that focus on minority health or health disparities.
  • Health disparities research is defined as basic, clinical, social, or behavioral research on health disparity populations (including individual members and communities of such populations) that relates to health disparities, including the causes of such disparities and methods to prevent, diagnose, and treat such disparities
  • You can apply even if you aren't a current NIH grantee.
  • Check the LRP-HDR Opportunity Announcement, refer to the LRP Institute and Center Contacts and Mission Priorities, and learn more about NIH's Health Disparities LRP.
Research in Emerging Areas Critical to Human Health (REACH) LRP (LRP-REACH)

  • LRP-REACH helps recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into research careers to pursue major gaps in biomedical and biobehavioral research and/or expand research in emerging areas critical to human health.
  • Emerging areas are considered new areas of biomedical and biobehavioral research that are ripe for targeted investments that can have a transformative relevance and impact for years to come.
  • Applicants to NIAID for LRP-REACH must pursue major opportunities or gaps in emerging high-priority research areas that fall within NIAID Mission areas and do not meet eligibility criteria for the Clinical, Pediatric, or Health Disparities LRPs.
  • You can apply even if you aren't a current NIH grantee.
  • Recipients must have an advanced degree from an accredited institution.
  • Check the LRP-REACH Opportunity Announcement, refer to the LRP-REACH Priority Statements and IC Contacts, and learn more about NIH’s REACH LRP.

LRP Application Advice

NIAID staff offer the following tips to improve your chance of a successful loan repayment program application.

Start early. At least several months before you apply, we recommend that you reach out to the LRP Program Contacts at the NIH institute or center (IC) most relevant to your research.

  • If you aren’t sure which ICs are aligned with your research, try using the NIH Matchmaker.
  • Read each LRP subcategory description carefully and discuss with the relevant IC’s program contacts.
    • These LRP contacts can verify whether your research fits the IC’s scientific mission and specific LRP program priorities.
    • Note that not every IC has the same funding priorities across the different LRP subcategories. For example, it is important to understand the NIH Definition of Clinical Trials because it can be very difficult for Ph.D.s who do not interact with patients to be funded by some ICs.
  • The LRP program officer can also advise you on your application plan and discuss your research goals.
  • If you are applying to the REACH LRP subcategory, you should also review the LRP-REACH Priority Statements for IC-specific summaries of emerging and gap areas of science.

Advice for mentees. Although LRPs are not mentored research awards, many applicants are early in their careers and in mentored situations. Consider the following points:

  • Make sure your mentor is a recognized expert in your field, has published extensively, and has grant support—preferably from NIH. Find more general advice from NIAID on What to Look for When Choosing a Mentor.
  • Work with your mentors on their parts of the LRP application to ensure that the mentoring plan accurately reflects all of the support you have available.
  • If you have more than one mentor, be sure that the role each mentor plays is clearly defined.
  • Your LRP application should demonstrate careful planning and a commitment from the applicant and mentor toward the goal of becoming an independent investigator.
  • Provide a clear description of the training plans and a well-considered statement from the mentor about the mentorship that will be provided. 

Craft a well-written application. As instructed by your chosen LRP announcement, your application should include a Description of Research Activities:

  • Your Description should include a timeline and list accomplishments required to achieve the next career milestone—e.g., an individual grant, publication record, independent position. Use the science as a vehicle to help develop your research career as an independent investigator.
  • Although NIH instructs peer reviewers not to re-review the technical merits of the science described LRP applications, it is still important to provide a clear and innovative Description. A well-written Description helps reviewers evaluate the likelihood that you will continue in a research career, maximizing your chance for a LRP award.

A strong LRP application effectively demonstrates your qualifications and emphasizes your commitment to research. It is also critical to ensure a positive overall impression because LRP reviewers are looking at your overall research potential.  

Emphasize commitment. The most common applicant mistake is failing to give a thorough description of the applicant’s research commitment.

  • Reviewers notice when the application lacks details or the details are disjointed. If your accomplishments are limited, it’s even more important for the application to reflect your strong dedication to research.
  • Your letters of recommendation must also demonstrate this commitment and emphasize your eagerness to pursue a research career.

Check your chosen LRP announcement for details on the Evaluation Criteria your peer reviewers will follow.

If your LRP application is not successful, be sure to contact your program officer and discuss feedback from the peer reviewers. If you can effectively address review comments, we encourage you to revise and resubmit your application. As long as you continue to meet eligibility criteria and have eligible educational debt, there is no limit to how many times you can reapply for the LRP.

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For more information on NIAID participation in loan repayment programs, contact

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