Guide to Managing Student Debt for Veterinarian Loans

Managing student debt for veterinarian loans is a difficult task. Anyone who has gone to school for medical-related fields will gladly tell you that the extra time was worth it, but it was also expensive.

Did you know that there are ways you can better manage your student debt as a practicing veterinarian once you’re out of school?

In this article, you’ll learn more about the options available to you and tips on managing your student loan debt.

What is the Average Student Loan Debt for Veterinarians?

Student debt is an unfortunate aspect of life, especially in the medical field. Despite all the good they do, veterinarians are not exempt from felling like they’re drowning in debt from their studies.

The average student loan debt for veterinarians as of last year came to a whopping $157,000, sometimes even higher depending on their tuition programs and the loan terms chosen at the beginning of their education.

Out of every industry, medical professionals have the highest level of debt-to-income after graduation, while positions for entry-level professionals can be low-paying, exacerbating the issue even further.

The average level of student debt fluctuates every year and by each school district, so it may not be the same for graduates next year. Still, something must be done for veterinarians who find themselves in a shocking amount of debt right out of school, which is where debt management comes into play.

An outstanding level of student debt not only affects your ability to start your own business, as the lender will be looking for a certain level of debt to income as a part of the approval process, but it can also affect your personal assets, say if you want to buy a car or open a mortgage account on a new home.

Managing debt wisely and paying off outstanding dues as quickly as possible is essential to a satisfactory career and home life alike.

Typical Veterinarian Debt-to-Income Ratio

The mean debt to income ratio for veterinarians fresh out of college is 2:1. Freshly graduated students often have a difficult time paying off their student loans due to a lack of job opportunities in their area.

The debt-to-income ratio is not the same across all graduate students, unfortunately.

Stunningly, nearly 20% of all graduating students came out of veterinary school over the last year with absolutely no debt, lowering the low end of the scale to 0:1 debt to income.

Unfortunately, another 20% were not so lucky, and wound up with a debt-to-income ratio of 4:1, meaning they were spending four times as much on their student loan debt than they were realistically able to make on a regular basis. This may be in part due to the lack of job options for many entry-level graduates, however, forcing several to start their own businesses or take up intermediary work until they can afford to work within veterinary medicine, a field that needs an influx of new skilled workers.

Overall, it was noted that women often graduated with a higher debt to income ratio than men on average, which also points to a gender inequality in education, work opportunity, or both.

How Do You Manage Vet School Debt?

Managing student debt can feel like a full-time job when you are fresh out of veterinary school. (1) Moving out of the local region, however, may help, especially if there are under-served communities nearby that need the help. Student debt relief is offered as an incentive to get skilled workers like veterinarians into rural or impoverished areas that need the additional service.

“It may be tempting to take the highest-paying job that comes your way when you finally get your degree. But working with underserved communities may actually help you pay off your debts faster.”


While this might not be your ideal opportunity, especially for veterinarians who dream of working with bigger clinics, but it’s an excellent way to manage student debt for veterinarian loans. For the vet who cares more about serving pets with quality care, however, it can become a meaningful service to provide, especially in small-town clinics operating with fewer resources.

For many veterinarians, balancing their debt with the ability to do the most good sounds like a challenging problem. Fortunately, these student debt programs are an easy way to achieve the best of both worlds.

Is There Financial Aid for Vet School?

Yes, veterinary schools often provide a variety of financial aid resources like most other educational institutions. Depending on the school programs available, you may be able to take advantage of different programs during your time at the school. To learn more specific information about financial aid before applying to a veterinary school, you should contact the financial office for that school.

These financial aids may include loans through the FAFSA program, which will often need to be repaid at the end of your education, but they can also include a chance at scholarships, grants, or fellowships to the school which must be applied to prior to or during your time at the school.

These options may cover a portion – or all – of your tuition costs, effectively providing you with the resources necessary to make the impressive 20% of graduate students who found themselves free of debt upon graduating.

If you are unable to qualify for financial aid, however, or if you have already graduated veterinary school with student debt, there are ways to manage that debt wisely so you can have your financial freedom back.

How Long Does It Take to Pay Off Loans for Veterinarians?

The average veterinarian – meaning they have the average amount of student debt and are making the average salary at a regular veterinary job – can expect to pay off their student debt 20-25 years after they graduate from veterinary school, assuming they do not take on any additional debt management or forgiveness programs after graduation.

While this number can be discouraging to some veterinarians, thoughtful management of your debt can help you consolidate and repay that amount on a much shorter timeline. This may be through refinancing, buying a business and taking an owner-salary, or through loan forgiveness programs.

Managing Student Debt for Veterinarian Loans

There are plenty of ways you can manage your student debt once you graduate. While it might mean a higher debt-to-income ratio in the short-term, it provides you with an increased ability to plan for the future and release your financial obligations earlier than average.

Managing your student debt in a thoughtful, strategic way can help you achieve the financial freedom to make other decisions about your lifestyle and career, such as buying a home, starting a family, or even purchasing a veterinary clinic of your very own, letting you take clinic protocol and patient care into your own hands.

Refinance Your Loans

Refinancing your student debt loans works under the principle that you can take out a new loan with a lower interest rate, consolidating your debt into that new loan. This is especially helpful if you have multiple sources of debt, such as a vehicle loan or mortgage in addition to student debt loans.

This helps lower your debt to income ratio and release any co-signers who help you acquire the first loan, but it can also remove any protections or guarantees provided by federal loans.  

Refinancing is a financial decision that might not be right for everyone, so it is advised that you speak to a financial advisor or loan broker to help you assess alternative options.

Use Loan Repayment and Forgiveness Programs

Loan repayment and forgiveness programs are available to veterinarians. Subject to application approval, you may be able to work with their lender or a third-party to pay off your student debt in exchange for an agreement on your behalf. Most commonly, veterinarians will find that they can enter into a loan forgiveness program by working in a community in-need for a certain amount of time.

While this is an excellent way to remove debt quickly, it may require you to move to the new community to fulfill your obligations. The debt may be returned to you if you do not fulfill those obligations according to the agreed upon terms.

Be Realistic About Your Budget

If you cannot afford a certain loan option, then you simply cannot afford it. It is important to be realistic about what your budget is over what timeline, as estimating a higher budget than what you can afford – after considering other financial obligations like rent and groceries – will put a strain on your wallet and could extend your debt further.

Vet Loan Considerations

There are many considerations you will need to make regarding your financial future when you first graduate. It seems unfair, but it’s an important and foundational step for the rest of your career. (2) With the proper due diligence, you can find the right choice for your financial situation.

If you are uncertain about whether a loan is the right choice to help you consolidate or refinance your debt, you may want to consider consulting a financial advisor on the matter.

“Make sure you’re actively researching which ones apply to your current field, as well as if there are any jobs you could apply for that would make you eligible for additional loan forgiveness opportunities.”


 The primary considerations you must make before taking on a new loan for your veterinary student debt is:

  • Does it make sense for you?
  • Does the timeline sound achievable?
  • Will you have the income necessary to achieve this timeline, or is it a risky endeavor?

The goal, overall, is to be able to repay your debt on a reasonable timeline that allows you to achieve financial freedom sooner rather than later. If the loan will put you further into debt, then it is not a good financial decision.

Need Help Finding the Right Loan Program?

At BSF, our team specializes in helping veterinarians buy, sell, and finance their new business at no additional cost. Fortunately, consolidating and managing student debt for veterinarian loans is a large part of this duty.

If you need help finding the right loan program for you to manage or consolidate your student debt from veterinary school, we can help you find a lender that fits your needs.

We understand that navigating the tricky world of finances isn’t what you signed up for; you signed up to care for animals and provide essential services pet owners need for their fur family. Instead, let us do some of the groundwork for you so you can focus on what matters.

Get in touch with our team today through phone or email. We’re ready to learn about your current situation and help you take the next step in your career.


    1., How You Can Pay Off Your Student Loans by Doing Good for the World
    1., 5 Key Strategies to Deal with Student Loans