July 3, 2023
Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health (OD)
This Notice replaces NOT-OD-22-153 and provides program-specific information for the Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Research in Emerging Areas Critical to Human Health (LRP-REACH). The NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) are a set of programs established by Congress and designed to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. Additional detailed information about each LRP is provided at www.lrp.nih.gov/eligibility-programs and www.lrp.nih.gov/apply.
The NIH invites qualified health professionals who contractually agree to engage in NIH mission-relevant research for an average of at least 20 hours each week for at least two years, initially, to apply for an award in the Extramural LRP. The Extramural LRP repays up to $50,000 annually of a researcher's qualified educational debt in return for a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research at a domestic, nonprofit, or government entity. Research funding from NIH is not required to participate in the Extramural LRP. LRP awards are based on an applicant's potential to build and sustain a research career.
Extramural LRP applications will be accepted from September 1 until November 16, 2023. All LRP applications must be submitted electronically using the Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST): https://public.era.nih.gov/assist/.
The objective of the LRP-REACH is to 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.
Although the participating NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) use this mechanism to support early career researchers, each IC will determine which emerging areas of research fit with their IC's research priorities, which can be found here: www.lrp.nih.gov/reach-priority-statements. Applicants are urged to contact ICs of interest for more specific information before starting an LRP-REACH application. Contact information for each IC scientific liaison is provided at this site: www.lrp.nih.gov/contact-engage.
No applicant will be excluded from consideration based on age, race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other non-merit factors.
Eligibility criteria to participate in the Extramural LRP:
The following individuals are ineligible for participation in the Extramural LRP:
The NIH intends to commit approximately $1 million annually to fund LRP-REACH awards.
Where to Obtain Additional Information: Please visit the LRP website at www.lrp.nih.gov, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Division of Loan Repayment Information Center toll-free at (866) 849-4047. Applicants are strongly encouraged to pay attention to Institute or Center (IC) specific funding priorities, and also to discuss their career interests with an IC scientific liaison: www.lrp.nih.gov/contact-engage.
Annual Receipt, Peer Review, and Review Schedule: Upon receipt, applications for both new and renewal awards will be reviewed for eligibility and completeness. Incomplete or ineligible applications will not be considered. Applications that are complete and eligible will be forwarded for peer review.
Applicants submit the following:
Research mentors submit the following:
Referees/Recommenders submit reference letters:
Information is obtained from individuals who can comment on the research skills and the abilities of the applicant. Reference letters are expected to include the following information about the applicant:
Institutional Business Officials submit a certification that:
Renewal Award Applications
Loan repayment awardees who wish to apply for a renewal award should do so no earlier than the year before their current award ends. LRP renewal awards are available for one- or two-year periods and are based upon the same criteria applied to an application for a new award plus two additional criteria – an assessment of research accomplishments and development of the applicant as an independent investigator. A detailed explanation or description of research accomplishments during the most recent award period is required. Progress toward development as an independent investigator is a major factor in granting a renewal award. LRP policy allows a thirty-seven-month period (starting the day after the last day of the most recent LRP award) for a renewal award application. After thirty-seven months, the Division of Loan Repayment views a submission of any application as an application for a new award, regardless of whether an unsuccessful application was submitted during the thirty-seven month period. Renewal awards are competitive and submission of an application for a renewal award does not assure the applicant of a renewal award.
Change of Institution
After the application submission deadline, a change of institution may be permissible, pending approval from the Institute or Center reviewing the application. All applicants must submit a Change of Institution (COI) request to the NIH Division of Loan Repayment immediately whenever there is a pending change in the applicant's employment, the scope of a submitted research plan, or research mentors. All COI applications must be submitted by January 31 for the application to be considered for review. A COI applicant must meet all LRP eligibility criteria, and COI requests are subject to final approval by the NIH Institute or Center that is reviewing the application. Approval of COIs is not guaranteed. Notification of a COI after the January 31 deadline will result in the application being withdrawn from funding consideration.
Post-submission Application Materials
Applicants may submit certain types of application materials after the application submission deadline if they result from unforeseen administrative issues or events. Post-submission materials must be received by the Division of Loan Repayment by email at email@example.com by January 31. Allowable post-submission materials for LRP applications are:
There will be no modifications made to the original application and any post-submission application materials will be shared with reviewers as a separate addendum to the original application. To provide an even playing field across all applications in terms of when the reviewers have access to information and in terms of the types of information they receive, no post-submission materials will be accepted after January 31. There are no guarantees that any updated information will be included for review.
Applications for the Extramural LRP are evaluated against the following criteria as related to the likelihood that the applicant will continue in a career focused on research in one of the following program areas:
Applicant's potential to pursue a career in research, including:
Quality of the overall environment to prepare the applicant for a research career, including:
For renewal award applications, progress under the previous project period is an additional evaluation criterion:
Program Administration Details
Under the LRP, the NIH will repay a portion of the extant qualified educational loan debt incurred to pay for the researcher's undergraduate, graduate, and/or health professional school educational expenses. It is the responsibility of the LRP awardee to notify the Division of Loan Repayment immediately if there is a pending change in employment, research focus, or extended leave. Failure to fulfill the terms of the LRP contract will result in termination of the LRP award and could be considered a breach of contract. The penalty for a breach of contract is $7,500 for every month of unfulfilled service or $31,000, whichever is higher.
LRP service obligation and NRSA service payback cannot overlap, and permission to defer NRSA payback must be obtained prior to receipt of LRP funding.
The NIH will repay lenders for the extant principal, interest, and related expenses (such as the required insurance premiums on the unpaid balances of some loans) of educational loans from a U.S. government entity, academic institution, or a commercial or other chartered U.S. lending institution, such as banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations, not-for-profit organizations, insurance companies, and other financial or credit institutions which are subject to examination and supervision in their capacity as lending institutions by an agency of the United States or of the State in which the lender has its principal place of business, obtained by applicants for the following:
Loan repayments are made directly to lenders, following receipt of (1) the Research Supervisor's verification of completion of the prior period of research, and (2) lender verification of the crediting of prior loan repayments, including the resulting account balances and current account status. LRP award recipients will also be required to submit quarterly verification of continued employment and qualified research. The NIH will repay loans in the following order:
1. Loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
2. Loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education:
3. Loans made or guaranteed by a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a territory or possession of the United States
4. Loans made by academic institutions
5. Private (Alternative) Educational Loans:
The following loans are NOT repayable under this program:
1. Loans not obtained from a U.S. or other government entity, academic institution, or a commercial or other chartered U.S. lending institution such as loans from friends, relatives, or other individuals, and non-educational loans (e.g., home equity loans)
2. Loans for which eligibility documentation (current account statement, and promissory note or lender disclosure statement) is not provided
3. Consolidation loans that include a loan not eligible for repayment, such as loans obtained from an unqualified lender, loans obtained by the applicant for an individual other than the applicant (e.g., spouse or child), loans obtained by an individual other than the applicant (e.g., spouse or parent), or non-educational loans (e.g., home equity loan)
4. Loans or portions of loans obtained for educational or living expenses which exceed a reasonable level as determined by the standard school budget for the year in which the loan was made
5. Loans, financial debts, or service obligations incurred under a program where an incurred service obligation converts to a loan upon failure to satisfy the service obligation
6. Loans that are delinquent, in default, or not current in their payment schedule
7. Parent PLUS loans
8. Loans that are paid-in-full
9. Loans obtained after the start date of the first NIH Loan Repayment Program award (e.g., a promissory note signed after the start date of an LRP award). This provision does not apply to qualifying loan consolidations.
Before the commencement of loan repayment, or during lapses in loan repayments, due to administrative complications, Leave Without Pay (LWOP), or a break in service, LRP awardees are wholly responsible for making payments or other arrangements that maintain their loans current, such that increases in either principal or interest do not occur. Penalties and/or fees assessed to awardees failing to maintain their current payment status may not be considered for reimbursement.
LRP payments are NOT retroactive. Loan repayment will commence after a loan repayment award begins, expected to be no earlier than July 1 and no later than September 30 annually.
Required Federal Citations
Awards are made pursuant to Section 2022 of the 21st Century Cures Act (Public Law 114-255), which amended Section 487B of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 288-2) to provide the NIH Director with direct authority to establish a new subcategory area under the Extramural Loan Repayment Program based on workforce and scientific priorities.