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The VIN Foundation believes a healthy animal community depends on a healthy veterinary community. The VIN Foundation Speaker Series provides lectures and continued education opportunities to help veterinarians thrive so they can help our animals and those who care for them.

Student Debt

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Our Team | Student Debt Consultant | Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA

Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA
VIN Foundation Board Member

Tony Bartels graduated in 2012 from the Colorado State University combined MBA/DVM program. He is an employee of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) and a VIN Foundation Board Member. Tony came to veterinary medicine as a career change by way of engineering and corporate finance. He and his wife, a small-animal internal medicine specialist practicing in Denver, have more than $400,000 in veterinary-school debt that they manage using Federal income-driven repayment plans. By necessity (and now obsession), his professional activities include researching and speaking on veterinary-student debt, providing guidance to colleagues on loan-repayment strategies and contributing to VIN Foundation initiatives. Beyond educational debt, his professional interests include small- and exotic-animal practice. When he’s not staring holes into his colleagues’ student-loan data, Tony enjoys fly fishing, ice hockey, and exploring Mountain West with his wife, Audra, and their rescued Labradoodles, Addi and Maggie.

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Resources | Vet School Bound

Audience: Pre-Veterinary

Title: Apply Smarter

According to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) 2023-2024 Annual Data Report, the least expensive first-year discounted tuition seat (in-state resident seat) for veterinary students starting in Fall 2023 (graduating 2027) was about $18,904 (University of Georgia).

The priciest first-year non-discounted tuition (out-of-state, non-resident seat) was about $74,352 (Ohio State University). You can expect to receive a great veterinary education at any of the AVMA COE accredited veterinary schools.

While scholarships can help, most veterinary students finance their education through federal student loans. If you plan on using student loans, interest will accrue during vet school, which will further increase your total cost of attendance.
During this session we will discuss a number of strategies that pre-vet students can use to Apply Smarter, Borrow Better, and Repay Wiser.  The earlier you start to consider your veterinary school plans and how you’ll pay for it, the better prepared you’ll be and the more money you can save in the long run.
VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Webinar | Borrow Better: Steps you can take now as a veterinary student to borrow less and reduce your future stress

Audience: Veterinary Students

Title: Borrow Better

Paying for your veterinary education is complicated. FAFSA, Direct Loans, Health Professions Student Loans, private loans, family loans, spouse support, savings, summer job — how do you know which loans or resources are best to use now to decrease stress during repayment?

If you’re using student loans to pay for veterinary school, you undoubtedly have applied for or received a financial aid award. 
While scholarships can help, most veterinarians finance their education through federal student loans. For those who borrow, interest accrues on the majority of veterinary school loans the moment they are received, which further increases educational costs.
During the Climbing Mt. Debt Borrow Better sessions, we discuss a number of strategies that veterinary students can use to decrease their costs while in-school and be more prepared to enter loan repayment strategically. The earlier you start to consider your borrowing and repayment options, the less stressful student debt becomes and the more money you can save.
VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Speaker Series | Climbing Mt. Debt Repay Wiser | Veterinary School student debt student loan | Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA

Audience: Veterinarians

Title: Climbing Mt. Debt | Repay Wiser

90% of graduates leave veterinary school with educational debt. Their debt is often more than 2- 3x the salary they can expect even upon completion of a specialty. Educational debt is very different from a mortgage or business loan and traditional repayment strategies are often contraindicated. Every student, intern, resident and those who work with, and supports, them needs to understand educational debt and its impact upon colleagues, practices, and the profession.
Creating debt repayment and financial plans specific to individual career path choices allows trainees to focus upon learning medicine rather than obsessing over their debt. In the Climbing Mt. Debt session, Dr. Bartels explores the options and strategies for surviving and thriving with educational debt and how they differ from managing a mortgage or the strategies physicians may use.
Learning Objectives:
Understand educational loans and repayment plans and how to minimize the impact of educational debt upon their future.
Speaker Context:
As recent veterinary graduates, Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA, and his wife have more than $400,000 of veterinary school debt that they manage using the federal income-driven repayment plans (IBR and REPAYE). Understanding income-driven repayment has allowed us to weather unexpected financial burdens as well as own a home.
Through first person experience as well as counseling thousands of veterinary students and professionals on student loan repayment strategies, Dr. Bartels engages the audience with an interactive presentation format that is part education and part financial counseling workshop. He debunks the common wisdom of traditional repayment methods and shows how those with high debt-to-income ratios can save tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars utilizing income-driven repayment.
Dr. Bartels demystifies the two most difficult aspects of loan repayment:
  1. Knowing which repayment plans you can use; and
  2. Deciding which repayment plan you should use.
Also covered are common myths and misconceptions like loan forgiveness, as well as the pitfalls and challenges associated with student loan repayment using real-world experiences.
CE Credits:
  • 1 credit per hour
  • Approved for AAVSB and New York State credits
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