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Author: Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Should I refinance my Federal Student Loans?

Should I refinance my Federal Student Loans?

How to know if or when you should ReFi your Federal Student Loans

 

Managing your veterinary student debt can be as emotionally charged as managing patients.  But, in finances as in medicine, the best decisions are evidence-based.

 

The bombardment of marketing campaigns encouraging you to refinance your federal student loans into a private loan(s) can be overwhelming.   Claims of lower interest rates and faster, less expensive payoff are attractive and tempting. Entertaining these offers is a risky venture for most recent graduate veterinarians.

 

If you remember one thing from reading this: A LOWER STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATE DOES NOT EQUAL LOWER PAYMENT; nor does it always equal lower repayment costs. If you’d like to know why, read on!

 

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VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Student Loan Forgiveness: Taxable or Tax-Free? Either way, It’s a Blessing

Student Loan Forgiveness: Taxable or Tax-Free?

Paying back a veterinary school student debt load can be extremely stressful and confusing, particularly when we see yet another news headline with a proposal to eliminate student loan forgiveness. 

 

Analyzing the various federal repayment options and programs and choosing the best for your situation is challenging.  Spending nearly the last ten years helping veterinary students, veterinarians, and those who work with them navigate their student loans and repayment options, we’ve seen student loan forgiveness and the debates around it cause significant confusion.  First, make sure you understand the differences between Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the taxable forgiveness under income-driven repayment.

 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness:

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VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | income-driven-repayment-plan-application-2019

Applying for or Renewing your Income-Driven Repayment Plan

A small, but significant change to the Department of Education (ED) updates Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan Request was made in 2019.  The IDR Plan Request form allows you to apply, renew, or update your student loan payment using Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE), Pay as you Earn (PAYE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR) or Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) for Direct or FFEL program student loans.  You can apply for/renew your IDR plan via studentloans.gov or your loan servicer(s).

 

Documenting income is a source of financial, emotional, and logistical stress for those with student loans as well as for the loan servicers who process the applications.

 

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VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Apply Smarter Q&A: Veterinary School Application Questions

Apply Smarter Q&A: Application Questions

Here are some questions and detailed answers about APPLICATION asked during the 2019 Apply Smarter webinar.  We also covered questions and answers about veterinary student loans and veterinary income.

“If you are from a state that does not have a veterinary school, is it possible to get in-state tuition in a different state?”

 

Yes. There are three ways to receive in-state tuition to veterinary school:

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VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Apply Smarter Q&A: Student Loans and Financial Aid

Apply Smarter Q&A: Student Loans and Financial Aid

Here are some questions and detailed answers about Student Loans and Financial Aid asked during the 2019 Apply Smarter webinar.  We also covered questions and answers about veterinary school application and veterinary income.

“What is a “standard” amount of financial aid offered by vet schools? I know it varies a lot, but would you say it’s easy to get some aid?”

 

“Can Dept of Education Stafford loans cover the entire veterinary program? Are there options for anyone unable to secure a co-signer?”

 

The “standard” amount of financial aid offered for your veterinary education is defined by the Cost of Attendance (COA) published by each school. The COA includes Tuition & Fees as well as living expenses.

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VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Apply Smarter Q&A: Veterinary Income

Apply Smarter Q&A: Veterinary Income

Here are some questions and detailed answers about Veterinary Income asked during the 2019 Apply Smarter webinar. We also covered questions and answers about veterinary school application and veterinary student loans.

“How does the type of animals you treat (small/large/exotic) factor into how much money you’ll make a year in veterinary medicine?”

 

“What is the difference between starting salary and earning potential 5, 10, 20, or 30 years into your career?”

 

Type of practice, experience, and location are major factors in a veterinarian’s income.

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VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Aspiring Veterinarians Apply Smarter

For the Aspiring Veterinarian – Apply Smarter!

Veterinary medicine is experiencing a student debt crisis. Yes, many higher education graduates experience loan repayment hardship; however the magnitude affecting recent veterinary graduates is unique.  Every day I counsel pending and recent graduates through the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) and via VIN Foundation who report student debt balances in excess of $200,000, $300,000 and $400,000 with incomes between $70,000 and $90,000 depending on where they choose to live and what type of veterinary medicine they are pursuing.  

 

While we can help veterinarians navigate these repayment challenges, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a significant part of the solution.  A key driver of the crisis is the decreasing availability of discounted tuition seats for veterinary school; those seats that allow you to pay an in-state or otherwise discounted tuition rate.

 

We’re knocking on the door of another veterinary school application cycle.  The Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) for the veterinary class starting in Fall 2020 is now open.  As you apply for veterinary school this year or beyond, Apply Smarter!

Did you miss the recent Apply Smarter?

 

Visit the Apply Smarter page on the VIN Foundation Vet School Bound website for the webinar recording and additional Apply Smarter resources.

What is “Apply Smarter”?

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VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | How Income-Driven Repayment Works: The Rules

How Income-Driven Repayment Works: The Rules

“I was looking at the income-driven repayment plans, and the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) option seems like it will cost me the least amount of money. However, everything I read online says that the income-driven repayment plans cost you more money because although they lower your monthly payment, you ultimately pay more interest in the long run. I was wondering if you could break this down for me? I don’t understand how it will cost me the least amount of money if I never hit the principal balance and pay more interest?”

 

This question, asked by a 2019 veterinary graduate who attended the recent new graduate webinar we presented on student debt,  is one of the most confounding aspects of income-driven repayment (IDR). Unfortunately, this confusion often prevents veterinarians from accepting the student loan repayment relief and other benefits provided by an income-driven repayment strategy.  

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