A Veterinarian’s Guide to Student Loan RefinancingFebruary 26, 2020
If you are a veterinarian or are in school to become one, you’re part of a growing field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for veterinarians is expected to grow by 18% by 2028, far higher than the average for all occupations.
By Kat Tretina
Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and more. She is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their income.
Becoming a veterinarian can be an expensive process. The American Veterinary Medical Association reported that the average amount of student loan debt for graduates was $143,000.
However, you also have high earning potential. The median wage for veterinarians is $93,830, which is far higher than most Americans make. With a higher-than-typical income, you’re an excellent candidate for student loan refinancing, which can help you manage your debt and save money.
Why student loan refinancing is helpful for veterinarians
When you decided to go to veterinary school, you likely had to take out graduate and professional degree loans to pay for your education. Unfortunately, student loans for graduate degrees tend to have higher interest rates than other forms of debt.
Even Grad PLUS Loans — a form of federal loan for graduate and professional degree students — have an interest rate of 7.08%. With such a high rate, your loan balance can quickly grow, causing you to owe far more than you originally borrowed.
By refinancing your student loan debt, you can qualify for a lower interest rate, allowing you to save a significant amount of money.
For example, if you had $143,000 in student loan debt at 7% APR and a 10-year repayment term, your monthly payment would be $1,660 per month. By the end of your repayment term — including interest charges — you would have repaid a total of $199,242.
If you refinanced your debt and qualified for a 10-year loan at just 5% APR, your monthly payment would drop to just $1,517, reducing your monthly payment by $144 per month. Over the course of your repayment, you’d repay $182,008. By refinancing your debt, you’d save over $17,000.
Loan Term: 10 Years
Minimum Monthly Payment: $1,660
Total Interest Paid: $56,242
Total Repaid: $199,242
Loan Term: 10 Years
Minimum Monthly Payment: $1,517
Total Interest Paid: $39,008
Total Repaid: $182,008
How to refinance veterinary school loans
You can refinance your veterinary school loans in four simple steps:
1. Review eligibility requirements
Make sure you meet the lender’s eligibility requirements. At ELFI, borrower’s must meet the following criteria:
- You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- You have at least $15,000 in student loan debt
- You make at least $35,000 per year
- Your credit score is 680 or higher
- Your credit history is at least 36 months old
- Your degree was issued by an approved post-secondary institution and program of study
You can find the list of participating schools on the ELFI student loan refinancing eligibility requirements page.*
2. Consider adding a cosigner
If you don’t meet the minimum eligibility requirements, or you want to improve your chances of qualifying for a lower interest rate, consider adding a cosigner to your loan application. Typically, you’d ask a parent, relative, or close friend to cosign the loan application with you. If you can’t afford the payments, the cosigner is liable for making them, instead.
By having a cosigner, you boost the likelihood of getting approved for a loan and securing a competitive interest rate.
3. Get a rate quote
Before submitting your loan application, get a rate quote so you have an idea of what kind of loan terms you can qualify for with a consolidation loan. With ELFI’s Find My Rate tool, you can get an estimated rate in just a few minutes without any impact on your credit score.*
Once you find a loan term and interest rate type that works for your needs, you can move forward with the loan application.
4. Submit your loan application
You can complete your loan application online. You’ll be prompted to enter basic personal information, such as your name, address, employer, and income. To speed up the process, make sure you have the following documents on hand:
- W-2 for the previous year
- Government-issued ID
You’ll also need to know who your current loan servicer is, your account number, and your current loan balance.
The entire application takes about 15 minutes to complete. Once you submit the application, ELFI’s underwriting team will review your information and will contact you with a decision and next steps.
Until you receive a loan approval and notification and loan disbursement, make sure you keep making payments on your current student loans to avoid missed payments and late fees.
3 other options for managing your loans
While student loan refinancing can be an effective way to manage your debt, it’s not a good idea for everyone. If that’s the case for you, there are some other options you can use to manage your loans:
1. Income-driven repayment plans
If you have federal student loans, you may be eligible for at least one of the four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans:
- Income-Based Repayment
- Income-Contingent Repayment
- Pay As You Earn
- Revised Pay As You Earn
With IDR plans, your loan servicer extends your repayment term, increasing it from 10 years to 20 or 25 years. Your monthly payment is generally capped at a percentage of your discretionary income. Depending on your family size and income, you could dramatically reduce your monthly payments.
After 20 to 25 years of making payments — depending on which plan you’re on — the remaining loan balance is discharged, but the forgiven amount is taxable as income.
You can apply for IDR plans online.
2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
As a veterinarian, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) if you have federal student loans and work for a non-profit organization or government agency for at least 10 years while making 120 monthly qualifying payments on your debt. Payments made under an IDR plan qualify for PSLF, no matter how low they may be.
After 10 years of making payments, your remaining loan balance is forgiven. The forgiven balance isn’t taxable as income.
Use the PSLF help tool to see if your employment and loans are eligible for loan forgiveness.
3. State student loan repayment assistance programs
Veterinarians are in hot demand, and many states are experiencing shortages of trained professionals. To recruit and retain veterinarians in high-need areas, some states offer student loan repayment assistance programs, where they offer help repaying your student loans. In return, you must agree to commit to work for a set period of time in a designated service area.
For example, Minnesota operates the Rural Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program. Eligible veterinarians who agree to work for five years in a qualifying position can receive $15,000 per year in loan repayment assistance, up to a maximum of $75,000.
Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website to see if your state offers a similar program.
Managing your student loans
If you need help tackling your debt, student loan refinancing can make a lot of sense. And ELFI can help you achieve your goals. In fact, NerdWallet ranked ELFI as the top lender for veterinary school loan refinancing, giving it a five-star rating.
Use ELFI’s student loan refinancing calculator to see how much you can save by refinancing your student loans.*
*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.
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