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New Veterinary Graduate Student Loan Playbook

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.

Utilize a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan

For those of you facing a student debt-to-income ratio greater than one (aka your total student debt balance exceeds your income), you’ll want to get started in income-driven repayment right away.  However, there’s a small problem: you can’t get into income-driven repayment until your grace period expires.  To solve this problem, start a Federal Direct Consolidation loan, waive your remaining grace period and apply for income-driven repayment.  You can start the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan process at studentloans.gov

Why would I waive my grace period?

For your veterinary school loans, the majority of your balance is accruing interest.  You continue to accrue interest during the grace period too. When the grace period ends, your accrued interest will get added to your principal.  This is called capitalization.  You’ll then accumulate interest on that higher principal balance going forward. Shortening your grace period saves you money. You force capitalization to happen sooner which lowers your starting repayment balance and the interest accumulation going forward.


Consolidating before you start your job, internship, or residency can also help you obtain a $0/month minimum payment for the first 12 months of an income-driven repayment plan. Income-driven repayment uses a discretionary income formula to determine your minimum monthly payment.  Taxable income is the primary input for discretionary income. If you do not have any taxable income when you complete the consolidation and income-driven repayment application, you won’t have a payment due for the first year of repayment.  As an added benefit, you will have started the clock towards loan forgiveness as well as buy some time and flexibility as you get familiar with your post-graduation budget.  This can help you get started in your new location, learn how to be a great veterinarian, start your personal financial wellness plan, and start working on long-term loan repayment plan.


Still Not Sure?

Start by logging into the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).  Download your “MyStudentData Download” file and head over to the VIN Foundation Student Debt Center.

The My Student Loans resource will help you make sense of your federal student loan portfolio. After you upload your NSLDS file, you can send a summary of that information into the Student Loan Repayment Simulator to see your repayment cost estimates based on your income and family inputs.


We’re here to help!

Please feel free to reach out with any questions: studentdebt@vinfoundation.org. VIN Foundation is here to help with understanding your student loans and repayment options now or in the future!

Dr. Tony Bartels graduated in 2012 from the Colorado State University combined MBA/DVM program and is an employee of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) and a VIN Foundation Board member. He and his wife 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.

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