How to pay for vet school

Studying to become a veterinarian is not cheap. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get financial aid for vet schools through scholarships, grants, student loans, and more.

If you’re considering a career in veterinary medicine, here’s what you need to know about how to pay for veterinary school, especially if you want to limit your reliance on student loans.

How much does veterinary school cost?

According to American Association of Colleges of Veterinary Medicine (AAVMC), the total cost of four-year veterinary school for U.S. residents can range from $170,742 to $289,597, depending on which school you choose to attend. This cost includes tuition and fees, supplies, equipment, transportation, room and board, and other expenses that go into the total cost of attendance.

Ways to Pay for Veterinary School

If you are looking for how to pay for veterinary school, there are many options available. Here’s a quick summary of some of the top picks.

Scholarships and grants

Scholarships and grants are the best forms of financial aid for veterinary schools because you usually do not need to repay this money.

Each veterinary school has scholarships they may offer to students, but the exact amount of financial aid available depends on the school. For example, the AAVMC reports that only 2.6 percent of students at Louisiana State University’s veterinary schools receive institutional financial aid, compared to 100 percent at the University of California, Davis.

Fortunately, there are also non-institutional scholarships you may be eligible for. For example, the AAVMC and Zoetis, the world’s largest producer of veterinary drugs, offer hundreds of scholarships each year, each worth $2,000 for those who qualify.

You can also use scholarship search engines to search for other scholarships and private grants that may be available based on your eligibility.


If you or your parents have money set aside in advance, you may be able to pay a good deal of your tuition and other costs without the need for outside sources.

Some of these funds might come from a high-yield savings account, but many graduate students also use leftover funds from a 529 plan.

Work study

Graduate students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may qualify for federal work-study, which is a program that allows students with financial need to work part-time while enrolled. Jobs can be on or off campus, and they are generally more flexible with student schedules.

Students doing work-study will earn at least minimum wage, although you cannot earn more than your total work-study price determined by the Department of Education.

Student loans

While taking out student loans isn’t ideal, you’re far from alone if you end up relying on them to cover some or even most of your vet school expenses. According to American Veterinary Medical Association83% of vet school graduates had student loan debt in 2020, with an average of $188,853 per borrower.

If you’re going this route, start by completing the FAFSA every year. This will qualify you for federal student loans, which offer more benefits than private student loans, such as opportunities for student loan forgiveness or repayment assistance programs. Plus, federal student loan interest rates are standardized for everyone who qualifies, and you don’t need to have stellar credit to be approved.

If you’ve used up all of your federal loan money, you can also apply for private student loans. These use your credit score and income to determine your rate, so take the time to shop around and compare multiple interest rate offers before committing.

Can you do a full round of vet school?

It is possible to attend vet school for free under certain circumstances. For one thing, if you join the U.S. military, the branch veterinary corps offers a full scholarship, plus a monthly stipend you can use for other costs in exchange for military training and education. reserve service.

Other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Institutes of Health, offer loan repayment programs if you meet certain criteria, but these only come into effect after you graduate with debt.

You should also check for specific opportunities at your school – many graduate programs offer significant scholarships or other opportunities to reduce tuition. Contact your financial aid office to see what is available.

Is vet school worth the debt?

As with any higher degree, a veterinary degree has both advantages and disadvantages to consider. The average salary for a veterinarian is $108,350, according to the Bureau of Labor Statisticswhich means that paying off your debt will take some time.

But being a veterinarian can be an incredibly rewarding career. In fact, career compatibility career explorer ranks veterinarian satisfaction among the top 20% of all careers.

If you’re trying to decide if a veterinary degree is right for you, take the time to talk with people who have gone through vet school. You can also consider a job at a local veterinary clinic to get an idea of ​​what day-to-day work is like.

Ultimately, only you know what the best career path is for you, so take the time to research your options, weigh the pros and cons, and move forward with confidence.

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