Veterinary educational debt is a complex and continually evolving topic impacting all colleagues, not just current students and new graduates. A recent Merck Animal Health study named student debt as the biggest stressor reported by colleagues. That study also indicated that fewer veterinarians are recommending the profession as a career choice.
Practice owners hire indebted associates, more seasoned associates work alongside indebted associates. Given the magnitude of this issue — many call it a crisis — and the fact that the gap between veterinary educational debt and income continues to widen, most colleagues are coming to recognize that saying “It’s not my problem” is no longer an option for any of us.
It’s not surprising that most borrowers, their parents, other advisers and even the leadership at veterinary schools and organizations struggle to understand the topic and various options for managing the debt.
Seeking a lower interest rate or paying more towards loan payments almost always makes sense when managing traditional debt, such as a mortgage or business loan. However, it often results in higher monthly payments, reduced flexibility, or a higher total repayment cost when managing veterinary student debt.
Tony Bartels and I have made helping colleagues understand and manage their student debt a focus (some call it an obsession) over the past six years since Tony graduated with and married into Federal educational loans exceeding $400,000. In recent years the VIN Foundation has taken this on as part of its mission to help colleagues in all stages of their careers from pre-veterinary candidate through retirement.