This week, Oregon introduced HB 2639 which would create the Veterinary Loan Repayment Program. It would direct the Oregon Student Assistance Commission to administer a program to repay student loans for veterinarians who agree to work in veterinary resource shortage areas. It would provide that for up to four years that the veterinarian serves in a veterinary resource shortage area, the Commission shall annually pay to the veterinarian $15,000 or the balance of the veterinarian’s qualifying loans, whichever is less. It would create the Veterinary Loan Repayment Program Fund and would continuously appropriate money in the fund to the Oregon Student Assistance Commission. The program would become operative on January 1, 2012.
If adopted, Oregon would join nineteen other states that have adopted legislation to create loan repayment programs for veterinarians and veterinary students. These programs were established to address the shortage of veterinarians working in food supply veterinary medicine.
Veterinarians are also now eligible for the USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. In 2010, the USDA received 260 applications and issued 62 awards totaling $5,998,080. According to the USDA, 65% of the selected veterinarians received the maximum payment of $25,000 per year.
We hope that more states will follow the lead of Oregon and the federal government and will introduce bills to combat the food supply veterinary medicine shortage.