Veterinary student debt Archives | VIN Foundation
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Veterinary student debt

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Exciting Enhancements to Veterinary Cost of Education Map

Exciting Enhancements to Veterinary Cost of Education Map

Interactive map provides long-desired true-cost view of attending veterinary school

Developed to help pre-veterinary students make better informed decisions when applying to veterinary school, the updated Cost of Education Map collates in one place, in one tool, the information individual students would spend days compiling and analyzing.


Most pre-veterinary students apply to multiple schools. Costs vary widely between schools and within schools depending on whether the applicant qualifies for a discounted seat based on residency. The Foundation’s goal in generating this tool is to enable students to apply smarter, seeking the high quality education they desire at the most reasonable cost.


Veterinarians face one of the highest student debt to income ratios of any profession, making applying smarter more important than ever. This interactive map compiles published veterinary school costs based on a student’s state or country of residence.

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Exciting Enhancements to Veterinary Cost of Education Map

New in this latest version of the Cost of Education Map:

  • Information for United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand veterinary schools
  • International residency options
  • The ability to compare costs from any number of schools side-by-side
  • Clear labeling of AVMA-accredited schools
  • Improved layout with veterinary school costs summaries
  • Updates to all school data


“It is our job to provide pre-veterinary students with the most reliable information available so they are able to make the most informed decision when choosing a veterinary school,” stated Richard Headley, VIN Foundation Board President. “The Cost of Education Map provides vital information critical in helping pre-vets determine the best veterinary school for their situation.”

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Exciting Enhancements to Veterinary Cost of Education Map

Learn more about the Cost of Education Map in the Vet School Bound website or explore more VIN Foundation resources.

A better use of associate and employer funds

A better use of associate and employer funds

I have run thousands of student-loan repayment simulations for veterinarians. The results have taught me that when it comes to borrowers with student debt greater than their incomes, the most flexible and lowest cost repayment strategies can be counterintuitive.


Contrary to conventional wisdom, loans with shorter terms and lower interest rates don’t necessarily constitute the best deals in the confusing world of student debt, particularly for recently graduated veterinarians. Paying more than the minimum monthly payment, even if the additional payments are coming directly from your employer, often does not make financial sense.  This is because the U.S. Department of Education offers several plans known as income-driven repayment (IDR) that are meant to ease the load. Owing to various benefits in IDR plans, including balance forgiveness, a borrower using IDR over a long period, even at a higher interest rate, ultimately could pay less in total than through a private refinance loan with a lower interest rate.  When a borrower is likely headed for student loan forgiveness, it also doesn’t make sense financially to pay more than is determined by your discretionary income for your annual IDR repayment schedule.

Calling all associates


Before considering an employee student debt-relief benefit, making additional monthly payments or pulling the trigger on a lower interest rate private refinance of your federal student loans, make sure you go through these steps:


  1. Determine your loan repayment eligibility using the VIN Foundation My Student Loans tool
  2. Run loan simulations at the VIN Foundation Student Loan Repayment Simulator
  3. Minimize your loan repayment costs
  4. Maximize your monthly cash flow
  5. Negotiate the best compensation benefits for your situation


Review IDR and your repayment options carefully.  As well-intentioned as it may be, there is a very good chance you’ll be paying more, losing flexibility, or discounting the value of the benefit you’re offered with many of the employer student loan assistance programs currently offered for veterinarians. Approach your employer about having the benefit redirected to pre tax benefits in your compensation package or paid out in a way where you have control of how those funds are used.

Calling all employers


Before offering an employee student loan assistance program, make sure you go through these steps:


  1. Get knowledgeable about IDR at the VIN Foundation Student Debt Center
  2. Will a direct student loan contribution reduce your associates total repayment costs?
  3. Consider the tax implications and logistics of a direct student loan contribution
  4. Are there other compensation benefits that will result in a larger value to you and your associate than a student loan contribution?
  5. Cater a plan that matches both your and your associates goals


For example, instead of a contribution of $150 per month  — $1,800 per year — directed at a federal student debt balance in excess of the borrower’s minimum monthly payment due, those funds probably could go further if it were given directly to the employee, contributed to pre-tax benefits such as retirement savings or health insurance, or directed to a forgiveness planning fund and IDR education.

Here is how a $150-per-month employer contribution could unexpectedly affect the financial situation of veterinarian borrowers whose student debt is more than their annual incomes:


  • Employer payments applied directly to student loan accounts increase the borrower’s taxable income.
  • Higher taxable income increases the minimum payment due under IDR plans. The more paid per month, the more the borrower pays in total.
  • Payments made above the minimum payment due under IDR, unless they can be applied to principal, result in more money paid in total than required under IDR.
  • Additional payments made on student loans that go only toward unpaid interest will reduce the amount forgiven. However, for a borrower using an IDR plan known as REPAYE, the additional monthly contribution may negate some or all of a monthly unpaid interest subsidy available under the plan, thereby reducing the value of the contribution.
  • Under IDR, loans are forgiven after 20 to 25 years of payments. The amount forgiven is taxable. If the benefit of an employer contribution is to reduce the employee’s tax liability, then, taking a tax rate of 30 percent, the benefit from a $150 monthly contribution is $45. Over 20 years, $36,000 in employer-paid student loan payments translates to a reduction of $10,800 in total repayment costs for a borrower who reaches forgiveness.

If you want to get really creative, consider a deferred compensation plan where your associate might earn an increasing amount in a fund they control that can be used to cover any anticipated tax liability incurred by student loan forgiveness. Alternatively, those funds could be used to finance a buy-in or purchase of your practice for succession planning.


We have to think beyond the employer student loan contribution plans largely catered toward undergraduate hires for other industries.  For associates whose student debt exceeds their income, these contributions plans benefit the third-party providers much more than the veterinary employers or associates using them.

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.


VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Blog | Veterinary Student Debt Center Launches

Veterinary Student Debt Center Launches

We are excited to announce the launch of our Student Debt Center, a mobile-friendly comprehensive resource for all things related to student debt, in particular veterinary student debt.

With veterinarians leaving school having a debt load routinely exceeding two times their salary, and far surpassing the “healthy” debt-to-income ratio of most professions, this is a critical issue impacting the veterinary profession. Veterinary student debt-related stress is taking a toll on individuals and the profession – a toll measured in physical, emotional and financial stress. The VIN Foundation is answering the call to this crisis with the Student Debt Center.