Student Debt Expert Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA
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Author:Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Choosing the Best Veterinary School for You

Choosing the Best Veterinary School for You

Choosing the veterinary schools you apply to is an exciting, yet confusing process. Several publications generate lists of the “best” veterinary schools using various criteria. Unlike some other professions, which veterinary school you attend likely won’t impact your future earnings or career options. However, which school you attend can have a significant impact upon the price you pay for your veterinary degree. If you, like most veterinary school attendees, finance the majority of your education with student loans, the amount you borrow can have a major impact upon your financial well-being for decades to come. As you consider embarking upon a career in veterinary medicine, let’s look at how you can Apply Smarter.


Acceptance numbers matter


The AAVMC Veterinary Medical College Application System (VMCAS) is now open for the 2019-2020 school year. How are you going to choose the schools on your application short list?


The 5 schools with most number of applicants among the 30 U.S. schools by total number of applications received for the 2017-2018 school year were:


  1. Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2,153 applications for 148 seats)
  2. Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (1,607 applicants for 128 seats)
  3. Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine (1,448 applications for 133 seats)
  4. Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (1,321 applications for 161 seats)
  5. University of Wisconsin – Madison School  of Veterinary Medicine (1,309 applications for 96 seats)


This does not mean these are the best veterinary schools and you should rush to include them on your short list. Nor does this mean these are the most competitive and hardest to get into and you should leave them off your short list. Let’s take a closer look at what these statistics do say.


Want to increase your chances of getting into veterinary school?


Total application numbers only tell part of the story. For example, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CSU) class of 2021 (entered Fall 2017) received 206 applications from Colorado residents for 71 seats for a 34% admittance rate. That’s better than a 1 in 3 chance of acceptance for Colorado residents. Conversely, CSU received 1,799 applications from applicants outside of Colorado for 51 seats for a 2.8% admittance rate, or a 1 in 35 chance of admission for non-Colorado residents. Assuming you meet all of the application prerequisites, which odds would you rather face?


To continue with the Colorado example, CSU is one of several schools with a special arrangement with certain western states via the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE). This allows students from some western states with no veterinary state school to obtain a veterinary education at a lower cost. For example, CSU received 24 applications from New Mexico residents via the WICHE program. Four of those applicants were admitted for an admittance rate of 16.7%, or a 1 in 6 chance of admission for New Mexico WICHE applicants. Those odds are not nearly as good as Colorado residents, but six times better than applying as a Colorado non-resident for the class of 2021.


Some schools have “2+2” arrangements where students complete their first two years of veterinary school at their state school and their final two years with a veterinary school. Again considering CSU as an example, they have a contract with students from Alaska via University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Students admitted through this program also have a better chance of acceptance as well as lower total education costs.


Your take home lesson — make sure you explore all of the potential arrangements with the veterinary schools you’re considering. You can find compiled application statistics and state arrangements for all U.S. schools on the VIN Foundation Vet School Bound website.


Apply Smarter


VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Choosing the Best Veterinary School for You Apply SmarterIncreasing your odds of getting into veterinary school by paying attention to residency status can also decrease your potential costs: Win-Win! Not only will you have better odds of being admitted into a state school if you apply as a resident of that state, in-state costs can be 2-3x less than out-of-state. You may not care much about costs while you’re applying, but your future veterinary self will care very much about any educational debt you take on. The VIN Foundation Cost of Education Map can help you understand cost differences for your targeted veterinary schools.


By using the VIN Foundation Apply Smarter tools, you can increase your odds of getting into veterinary school while also making sure you pay the least amount possible for your education.


With the current student debt crisis, it’s never been more important for you to consider veterinary application statistics and costs. VIN Foundation is here to help you pull this information together in a single resource so you can Apply Smarter!


This article originally ran on the Student Doctor Network

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | VETERINARY NEW GRADUATE STUDENT LOAN PLAYBOOK

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 learn why and how a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan can help you start your student loan repayment plan ASAP.


If you borrowed student loans to help you through veterinary school, you do NOT want to wait until your grace period expires to get  your loan repayment plan started.  You can benefit from starting a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan as soon as your loans allow.  Let’s look at how you can use your student loan grace period in a financially beneficial way.


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.  


VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Sharing saves time, income-driven repayment saves money

Sharing saves time, income-driven repayment saves money

Student loan repayment is complicated.  With the availability of income-driven repayment options like Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), confusion can set in quickly.  The VIN Foundation Student Debt Center is here to help! The My Student Loans function and guides you through which repayment plans you can use and the Student Loan Repayment Simulator helps you figure out which plan you should use.


VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | ESTIMATE YOUR MINIMUM MONTHLY STUDENT LOAN PAYMENT | Advanced Simulator Setting - Poverty Growth Rate

Estimate Your Minimum Monthly Student Loan Payment

The recently updated 2018 Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guidelines determine your minimum monthly student loan payment. 


Poverty guidelines are used for many different U.S. government programs. One of the most important uses for veterinarians is the Discretionary Income calculation used to generate the minimum monthly student loan payment of federal income-driven repayment plans (IBR, PAYE, REPAYE).  Income-driven student loan repayment plans are extremely helpful for those veterinary graduates with student loan balances greater than their annual incomes.



My Student Loans

Getting to and through veterinary school takes a long time and a lot of education. Along the way, you can borrow a variety of loan types to finance your education resulting in a complex student loan portfolio. Before you can formulate a repayment plan, you need to understand your student loans.  This short video tutorial will show you how to retrieve and upload your NSLDS file.


The VIN Foundation My Student Loans tool will help you make sense of your student loan portfolio. Using your National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) file, My Student Loans will organize your loans by type, date received, interest rate, principal, calculate a weighted average interest rate, and estimate your monthly interest accumulation. This information is crucial for helping you determine which repayment plans you can use.