Average Monthly Student Loan Repayment for VeterinariansDecember 23, 2021
Some people don’t think of veterinarians when they think of the medical profession, but it’s a career in medicine all the same. Veterinarians come up with treatment plans, prescribe medication and perform delicate procedures just like any doctor, surgeon or nurse would.
Here’s something else they have in common with other medical professions: a massive student loan burden.
If you’re considering a career in veterinary medicine, you might be wondering what your monthly student loan payment will look like. Let’s examine all the factors involved so you can get a better idea of what to expect.
What is the Average Vet School Debt?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 83% of vet students from the class of 2020 graduated with student loans. The average vet school debt total was $188,853. The monthly payment on a student loan of this size depends on the specific loan term and interest rate. With a 20-year term and a 6% interest rate, the monthly payment would be $1,353.
In 2016, 20% of veterinarians graduated with more than $200,000 in vet school debt. These figures don’t include any debt that borrowers may have from their undergraduate degree.
Like other professions, the debt total among veterinarians is getting worse. Data from the AVMA shows that graduates from the class of 2018 owed 10% more than graduates from the class of 2017.
How to Pay Off Veterinary School Student Loans
Saddled with hundreds of thousands in student loans? Here’s how you can pay them off:
Work toward vet student loan forgiveness
There are many government-based vet student loan forgiveness programs that veterinarians may be eligible for.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Veterinarians who work full-time for a government organization or nonprofit may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Only borrowers with Direct federal loans qualify for PSLF. If you have non-Direct federal loans, you’ll have to consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan for them to be eligible. Private student loans do not qualify for PSLF.
While working toward PSLF, borrowers must be on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. These plans base the monthly payment on your income and family size, so most borrowers will pay less each month with an IDR plan.
After making 120 monthly payments, the remaining loan balance will be forgiven, and borrowers will not have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount. To make sure you’re eligible for PSLF, submit an employer certification form every year to verify that both your employer and loan type qualify.
Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness
Borrowers whose employers do not qualify for PSLF may work toward income-driven repayment forgiveness. After making 20 or 25 years of payments, depending on the type of IDR plan, the remaining balance will be forgiven.
Normally, borrowers have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount. But thanks to President Biden’s stimulus package, borrowers who receive IDR loan forgiveness between 2021 and 2025 will not have to pay taxes on any forgiven balance. Many experts believe the federal government will extend this rule permanently, but that’s still up for debate.
Military Loan Forgiveness
You can also explore student loan forgiveness for military service members. The Veterinary Corps is the division of the Army that offers a veterinary student loan repayment program.
Veterinarians who are still in school may be eligible for the Health Professions Scholarship Program. If accepted, you’ll receive a scholarship that covers the full cost of tuition for three years. Students will also be paid a stipend to cover living expenses.
You’ll work with the US Army during school breaks to receive more veterinary training. This is a paid opportunity.
Veterinarians who have already graduated can apply for the Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program, which repays up to $40,000 annually. There is a minimum two-year contract.
Veterinarians who serve in the Army Reserves may be eligible for the Army Reserve Health Professions Loan Repayment Program, which pays up to $60,000 for a three-year stint.
Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program
Like other vet student loan forgiveness programs, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) offers a veterinary student loan repayment program for vets who serve in an area that is deemed to have a veterinary service shortage.
Vets must serve for at least three years and may have up to $25,000 of student loans forgiven each year. Both federal and private loans are eligible for the VMLRP.
Some states offer their own veterinary student loan repayment programs. For example, Maine offers 25% of your loan balance forgiven per year if you work in an underserved area and devote at least 20 hours a week to livestock vet care.
Conduct a Google search for your state and keywords like “veterinarian loan repayment” or “veterinarian loan forgiveness” to see if there are any local options.
Refinance student loans
If you took out student loans for veterinary school, you can refinance them to get a lower interest rate. You could save thousands or even tens of thousands by refinancing.
Let’s say you owe $185,000 with a 7% interest rate and a 10-year term. If you refinance to a 4% interest rate and a 10-year term, you’ll pay $32,996 less in interest. Your monthly payment will also be $275 less.
If you have federal student loans, refinancing will mean losing access to federal benefits like income-driven repayment plans, PSLF and longer deferment and forbearance periods. Before refinancing, make sure you understand the pros and cons of converting your federal loans into private loans.
ELFI offers student loan refinancing for both private and federal student loans.* When you refinance with ELFI, you’ll be paired with a personal loan advisor who will assist you throughout the entire process. As of December 27, 2021, ELFI has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on TrustPilot with more than 1,500 reviews.
Click here to learn more about refinancing student loans with ELFI.