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Repay Wiser: 2019 New Veterinary Graduate Student Loan Playbook

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | 2019 New Veterinary Graduate Student Loan Playbook

Repay Wiser: 2019 New Veterinary Graduate Student Loan Playbook

Graduate, Consolidate, Get Started in Income-Driven Repayment


Congratulations, new veterinary doctors! It’s time to celebrate graduation! It’s also time to log in to NSLDS.ED.GOV, download your NSLDS file, use the VIN Foundation My Student Loans tool and Student Loan Repayment Simulator, and start a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan as soon as you can to save you time and money.


On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, VIN & VIN Foundation hosted a live webinar with Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA, to discuss why starting your student loan repayment plan ASAP is so beneficial and how to do it.  If you were unable to attend, no worries — we have the information for you to review right here!

The 2019 New Veterinary Graduate Student Loan Playbook includes:


Utilize a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan

For those of you facing a student debt-to-income ratio greater than one (aka your total student debt balance exceeds your income), you’ll want to get started in income-driven repayment right away.  However, there’s a small problem: you can’t get into income-driven repayment until your grace period expires.  To solve this problem, start a Federal Direct Consolidation loan, waive your remaining grace period, choose your loan servicer, and apply for income-driven repayment.  You can start the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan process at studentloans.gov

Why should I waive my grace period?

For your veterinary school loans, the majority of your balance is accruing interest.  You continue to accrue interest during the grace period too. When the grace period ends, your accrued interest will get added to your principal.  This is called capitalization.  You’ll then accumulate interest on that higher principal balance going forward. Shortening your grace period saves you money. You force capitalization to happen sooner which lowers your starting repayment balance and reduces your repayment costs.


Consolidating before you start your first job, internship, or residency can also help you obtain a $0/month minimum payment for the first 12 months of an income-driven repayment plan. Income-driven repayment uses a discretionary income formula to determine your minimum monthly payment.  Taxable income is the primary input for discretionary income. If you do not have any taxable income when you complete the consolidation and income-driven repayment application, you won’t have a payment due for the first year of repayment.  As an added benefit, you will start the clock ticking towards loan forgiveness as well as buy some time and flexibility as you get familiar with your post-graduation budget.  This can help you get started in your new location, learn how to be a great veterinarian, start your personal financial wellness plan, and start working on a long-term loan repayment plan.


Still Not Sure?

Start by logging into the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).  Download your “MyStudentData Download” file and head over to the VIN Foundation Student Debt Center.

The My Student Loans resource will help you make sense of your federal student loan portfolio. After you upload your NSLDS file, review your loan types, balances, weighted average interest rate, and income-driven repayment plan eligibility.  Then you can send a summary of that information to the Student Loan Repayment Simulator where you can project your repayment costs based on your income and family inputs.


VIN Foundation My Student Loans

VIN Foundation My Student Loans



We’re here to help!

Please feel free to reach out with any questions: studentdebt@vinfoundation.org. VIN Foundation is here to help with understanding your student loans and repayment options now or in the future!

Dr. Tony Bartels graduated in 2012 from the Colorado State University combined MBA/DVM program and is an employee of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) and a VIN Foundation Board member. He and his wife have more than $400,000 in veterinary-school debt that they manage using federal income-driven repayment plans. By necessity (and now obsession), his professional activities include researching and speaking on veterinary-student debt, providing guidance to colleagues on loan-repayment strategies and contributing to VIN Foundation initiatives.

Leave a Reply

  • Grace

    January 26, 2020at5:06 pm Reply

    I am accepting a position in a county that qualifies for the USDA loan forgiveness program.. if I wanted to sign up for the REPAYE program, how would this affect it if I received that loan forgiveness?

    • Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA

      February 6, 2020at9:53 pm Reply

      Hi Grace! I’m guessing that you are referring to the Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP)? If so then you can (and probably should) use an income-driven plan like PAYE, REPAYE, or IBR while receiving the $25,000 per year quarterly payments provided by VMLRP. The only things to be aware of are VMLRP payments are treated as taxable income to you so your taxes may go up slightly and because income-driven payments are calculated on your taxable income, your monthly payments might be a little higher too. When you start receiving VMLRP payments towards your student loans, I would also turn off the “pay ahead” feature with your loan servicer so those additional payments do not interfere with your annual income-driven repayment renewal. Does that make sense?

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