Proposed Bill Would Reduce Rural Vet Shortage By Alleviating Student Debt

A bill in the U.S. Senate would eliminate taxes on federal programs and alleviate some student debt, encouraging more vets to practice in rural areas, sponsors say. Rural areas are notoriously underserved by veterinarians. The USDA reports that 48 states are experiencing veterinary shortages in 221 areas.

Proposed by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the bill expands the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), which repays up to $25,000 a year in student loans in exchange for at least three years of work in an area experiencing a veterinary shortage.

 

Vet school typically costs between $200,000 and $275,000; the 2.6 percent increase in student debt in 2020 meant a vet school graduate carried an average of $188,000 in student loans. While the VMLRP offers veterinarians debt relief assistance, current funding is taxed by the federal government at 37 percent.

This rate limits the program benefits, the sponsors say. The proposed bill would end federal tax withholding, providing more financial assistance to new veterinarians and encouraging their involvement in communities that need their service. 

Read more at Capital Press

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