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Climbing Mt. Debt - Veterinary Interns and Residents

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Student Debt | Veterinary Interns and Residents Climbing Mt. Debt Repay Wiser webinar

Attention Future & Current Veterinary Interns, Residents, and Grad Students!


Learn How to Navigate Your Student Loans

During & After Your Internship and Residency


Conventional wisdom and reflex in the medical training community often says to defer your loans while pursuing internships and/or residencies. However, income-driven repayment (IDR) is often a much better option for veterinarians with federal student debt pursuing advanced education.

Income-driven repayment (IDR) calculates your monthly payment using your taxable income. After making payments for a specified number of years (20 or 25 depending on the plan), your remaining balance can be forgiven, triggering a tax on the amount forgiven. IDR can also lead to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) which is a non-taxable benefit with specific requirements, including making payments to your federal Direct loans using an IDR plan while working for a qualifying organization for at least 10 years. The most beneficial IDR plans include Saving on Valuable Education (SAVE), or Pay as you Earn (PAYE). Beware: PAYE is due to be phased out on July 1, 2024. If PAYE Is your best IDR option, then make sure you are using it before the phase out. Anyone who is using PAYE on July 1st can continue using it. But after July 1st, no one will be able to select it.

If you need help understanding your loan types, go to, download your federal student aid data file, and upload your file to the VIN Foundation My Student Loans tool. This tool will organize your student loans by type and loan servicer, and you can see your potential IDR plans with the “Income-Driven Repayment Eligibility” function.

Choosing the right student loan repayment strategy for your situation can save you a ton of time, money, and stress — a concept VIN Foundation calls Repay Wiser.

1) Climbing Mt. Debt for Veterinary Interns and Residents Webinar

Watch the webinar recording below of the recent Climbing Mt. Debt webinar from the VIN Foundation. In this video, Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA and Rebecca Mears, DVM walk you through, step-by-step, what you need to do to begin a successful student loan repayment strategy. We welcome any questions and feedback.

2) Climbing Mt. Debt for Veterinary Interns and Residents Prezi

Review the Climbing Mt. Debt presentation materials including clickable links to the resources referenced in the presentation. Think of this as the “slide deck” you can click through and review at your own leisure as a quick summary of the webinar.

3) Repay Wiser for Veterinary Interns and Residents Checklist

All this information can be overwhelming. The Repay Wiser for Veterinary Interns and Residents Checklist provides a clear outline of steps to help veterinarians pursuing advanced education with student debt save time, money, and stress as they Repay Wiser for their specific student loan situation.


Avoid deferment/forbearance during your internship and/or residency

  • Interest accrues on all unsubsidized federal loans during the deferment/forbearance period.
  • After your deferment/forbearance, accrued interest may capitalize, aka) added to your principal.
  • Adding interest to your principal increases future interest accrual.
  • More interest means higher costs during repayment, regardless of your repayment strategy.
  • Deferment/forbearance time is not forgiveness-eligible meaning you could end up in repayment longer than necessary.

Using SAVE or PAYE for internships and/or residencies:

IDR payments are calculated at either 10% of your discretionary income, depending on the plan. The most beneficial option, SAVE, will calculate the lowest monthly payment of all the IDR options.

On average, veterinary interns and residents earn about $50,000 per year. This means using a plan like SAVE, your loan payment would be $134/month. If you follow the New Veterinary Graduate Student Loan Playbook, you can achieve a $0/mo payment for at least the first 12 months, if not the first 24 months, of your advanced education. These zero dollar monthly “payments” still count towards IDR forgiveness and PSLF depending on your employment type.

Accrued interest will not be added to your balance while using SAVE with the 100% unpaid interest subsidy. SAVE is the only repayment plan that will stop your interest from accruing. Preventing interest from being added to your balance during your training can save you tens of thousands of dollars during the course of repayment.

CAUTION: If you are enrolled in school at least half-time during an academic internship/fellowship/residency, your school will automatically report your status to the Department of Education. This will result in an automatic loan status change to “deferment.” You may be able to prevent this automatic status change by providing oral and written notice to your loan servicer(s) to waive your in-school deferment and remain in repayment. Do this before starting your academic position and have dated documentation of your request (ie certified mail).


Using the Repay Wiser strategies veterinarians pursuing advanced education with student loans can set themselves up for debt repayment success:
  1. Veterinary Internship and Residency Student Loan Repayment Frequently Asked Questions
  2. SAVE for Veterinary Interns or Residents
  3. New Grad Student Loan Repayment Playbook
  4. VIN Foundation Student Debt Center
  5. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Repay Wiser is part of the VIN Foundation Student Debt Center three part series of helping veterinary colleagues throughout their student loan path. It starts with pre-veterinary students learning how to Apply Smarter to veterinary school, continues for veterinary school students as they learn how to Borrow Better while in school, with the final (and longest) journey along the path helping veterinarians Repay Wiser.
The helpful three-part student loan series Apply Smarter, Borrow Better and Repay Wiser is part of the VIN Foundation Student Debt Center. The VIN Foundation Student Debt Center is a mobile-friendly comprehensive resource helping veterinary students, veterinarians, and those who support them manage student debt through school and beyond. Explore the VIN Foundation Student Debt Center.
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