Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NIH Loan Repayment Program a godsend for young neuropathologists interested in research

Today I feature a guest post from the illustrious Dr. Mike Lawlor.

Hi Everyone,

I'd just like to tell everyone about a program that the NIH offers, which may be of great interest to Neuropathology Fellows, Research Fellows, and Junior Faculty.  It's called the NIH Loan Repayment Program (LRP), and it's designed to encourage people with an interest in research to remain in the academic research environment.  From what I've heard, the NIH created this program so that people with lots of student loans (mostly medical doctors) with an interest in research would not give up their research careers due to their loan debt.
I just got an email from the LRP people, and they now have a webinar available to help people apply.  The link for the webinar is: 

Michael W. Lawlor, MD, PhD
The award offers up to $35,000 per year for up to two years, and you're able to apply for renewals whenever it runs out.  This counts as income, but the NIH also pays the federal income tax on this grant for you.  I ended up owing about $2000 in state tax every year for having the award, but that doesn't seem like much as you watch your student loans disappear.

Here's what you'll need:

1) The grant application, which can be found this site.  The forms aren't too labor-intensive, and you need to propose a 2-year research program and be able to guarantee a 50% effort commitment to the research.

2) A bunch of info on your student loans, most/all of which can be found on your monthly statements.  Your student loan burden needs to exceed a certain amount before you qualify, and the amount you need is dependent on your income.  Given the non-stellar income of most neuropath fellows and research fellows, it's actually pretty easy to qualify on financial grounds.  You may continue to apply for renewals as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

3) Someone to vouch for you.  Your research adviser will need to reply to an email that confirms that you are devoting 50% effort to your research every quarter.  After that confirmation is made, and you confirm that the prior payment made it to the right account, they apply a payment to your educational loans.

Anyway, I've been in this program for the past 2 years, had it renewed for another year, and am in the process of writing another renewal.  It really is a fantastic program with excellent support.  The next deadline is November 15th, so there's definitely time for you guys to put something together.  Once you submit the application, you'll hear nothing for about 6 months, and then they'll ask you for some updated student loan information if you've made it through their scientific review process.  The application cycle is once per year.

I hope that this helps some of you, and good luck!

Thanks for this helpful information, Mike!

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