A veterinarian’s main concern is caring for animals. Pet owners, animal lovers, and farmers depend on these specialists to uphold animal health and well-being. Government relies on vets for research into disease, food safety and drugs.
The last thing the student or newly-graduated vet wants to think about is paying back loans.
Much like human medical school, veterinary school costs are staggering. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 2016 veterinary graduates have a mean student debt of $141,000.
Fortunately, there are programs that can help with educational debt—veterinary student loan forgiveness and repayment programs. Here are just a few to consider:
U.S. veterinary student loan forgiveness and repayment programs
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), authorized by the National Veterinary Medical Services Act (NVMSA), helps qualified veterinarians offset a significant portion of the debt incurred in pursuit of their veterinary medicine degrees in return for their service in certain high-priority veterinary shortage situations.
To receive this award, you must agree to serve at least three years in a region with a veterinarian shortage. The type and amount of work you do for the yearly award depends on the area where you work. Note that this program focuses primarily on veterinary medicine for livestock raised for food.
You may receive up to $25,000 of your student loan debt per year.
For more info: nifa.usda.gov
State-by-state veterinary student loan repayment assistance programs
Some states (not all) offer repayment assistance. Note that even in states where legislation was enacted to establish these programs, funding needs to be appropriated. You’ll need to contact the specific programs to find out if they are currently funded and operational.
For more info: avma.org
Army Health Professions Loan Repayment Program
The Army offers a loan repayment program for a variety of health professionals, including veterinarians. Both active duty and reservists are eligible.
If you are on active duty, you can receive up to $120,000 over three years through the Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program. If you’re in the reserves, you can receive $50,000 in student loan repayment over three years.
For more info: military.com OR goarmy.com
Faculty Loan Repayment Program
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers loan repayment to those interested in pursuing a career as a faculty member at a health professions school. The Faculty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP) helps recruit and retain health professions faculty members by encouraging students to pursue faculty roles in their respective health care fields.
Loan payment assistance up to $40,000; Funding to offset the tax burden may be possible.
For more info: bhw.hrsa.gov
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. Eligible jobs are available for veterinarians in government, nonprofit, and military organizations.
For more info: studentaid.ed.gov
Veterinary medicine is a fulfilling career; the chief reward is the contribution to animal health. We suggest that you explore all repayment options, including private funding and debt consolidation.