This is insane!! Indentured servitude is back
Just to add an additional experience here.
I applied for and received an F32 and from the moment it was initialised my supervisor began treating me very poorly. I felt that I could not leave as I had incurred the payback. I stayed beyond what any reasonable person should be expected to endure.
I made it to 15 months at which time my advisor completely changed my project and reduced my time on the grant to 50% without the consent of the NIH, which was against grant guidelines. The institute then claimed that even thought the grant guidelines had been received, they were too long for my mentor to be expected to read.
In the end, the grant was terminated at 15 months. I now owe the US government back over $40,000. After such a horrible experience, I have no desire to stay in research. However, I believe in living up to my agreements. Although rare, this is the kind of situation that can happen with a payback agreement.
From reading this forum, it seems that while grant funding is this tight, the situation in labs is not always conducive to a positive training experience. I am hoping that the payback soon becomes a thing of the past and that we can find a new way, such as providing a positive training experience, to try and keep scientists in science!