Veterinarian Salary: Can You Afford the Student Loan Debt? 

Veterinarian salary: Can you afford student loan debt? According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average salary for a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) is $30,000, which is quite a bit below the average American salary. However, many sources do not take into account the fact that the average RVT also has to pay for veterinary school, which is a whopping $43,000 per year!

If you want to be a veterinarian, you’ll need to pay for your education like everyone else. But can you afford it? There are several factors to consider when trying to determine whether or not you can afford to pay for school, including the cost of school, your current debt levels, and the amount of money you will earn as a veterinarian.

Veterinarians are among the best-trained professionals in the world. If you think being a doctor and studying medicine is difficult, try studying and practicing medicine in a number of different anatomical units. And all this with more limited means, resources and technologies. Given these obstacles, is it worth pursuing a veterinary degree?

These smart, hard-working people have a hard time getting the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, or DVM.

First, there are only a limited number of schools of veterinary medicine in the United States. As a result, there is fierce competition among applicants for admission to veterinary school. Those who are admitted to the DVM program face four grueling years of training, which are not cheap due to the complexity of veterinary medicine.

Finally, a veterinarian’s salary after obtaining their DVM degree is not quite at the level it should be given their education. As an outsider, I think GPs deserve better than they do. Here’s the thing: People love their pets, but owners often can’t spend as much on their beloved pets as they would on themselves if they had a health problem.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a veterinarian is $99,250. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the average debt for a veterinary school is about $150,000. Some veterinary students have reported debts of more than $400,000.

We’ve seen this high average of vet school debt here at Student Loan Planner. That’s a lot, especially when you consider that the average salary for the top 10% of veterans is $164,490.

Even the highest paid vets earn little more than what the average graduate is entitled to.

Veterans graduate with more student loans than expected

It takes approximately four years to earn an MD degree after completing a four-year undergraduate program. These four years can be very costly.

For example, tuition at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine is approximately $153,000 for a resident. However, the higher cost of living can also lead to significant student debt. Ohio State estimates that the average cost of a veterinary school is about $85,000.

Then there are the annual increases in tuition, the interest on the loans, and the balance of the loans left over after tuition. This significantly increases the cost of achieving the DVM degree.

At Student Loan Planner, we have worked with over 250 veterans with an average debt of $273,000.

Is veterinary medicine worth the money?

How much do vets earn?

The average salary for a veterinarian is about $99,000 per year. But how does that compare to the average graduate without a degree?

According to the BLS 2021 report, the median salary for a graduate is approximately $74,000.

Being a veterinarian, for example, provides an average additional income of $25,000 per year.

Assuming a veterinarian has an additional $25,000 in income over the course of a 30-year career, a veterinarian’s lifetime income is $750,000 higher than someone with a bachelor’s degree. That seems like a large number.

Taking out a $273,000 loan to make an extra $750,000 doesn’t seem financially prudent at first glance. However, keep in mind that this additional income is taxable.

If we assume a 40% tax rate at the federal and state level, we can reduce the $750,000 in revenue to about $450,000 in additional revenue.

So now we’re talking about the vet who has $450,000 more to pay off the $273,000 in student loans that allowed him to get a higher salary.

At first glance, veterinary school seems financially rewarding, but there are a few key aspects missing from these figures:

  1. What these numbers don’t show is that many veterans spend the first 20 to 25 years of their careers paying off loans and looking at student loan balances that don’t seem to change and in many cases continue to grow.
  2. The other part of the equation is that the cost of repaying the loan will be higher than the actual balance of the loan.
  3. The borrowing options for vets are extremely limited. Of course, there are many options in the AVMA. But they’re not easy to come by. I have only worked with a few veterans who work for the Department of Agriculture and qualify for a Public Service Loan (PSLF).

Let’s take a closer look at what paying off a veterans loan looks like.

Repayment options for DVM student loans

In our experience at Student Loan Planner, there are two optimal ways for veterans to repay their student loans. But they are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

  1. Aggressive withdrawal: For people with debt of 1.5 times their income or less (for example, someone making $100,000 with loans of $150,000 or less), the best option is to use every dollar they can find to pay off the loans as quickly as possible, within a maximum of 10 years.
  2. Pay as little as possible: For people with debt of more than twice their income (e.g., someone who earns $100,000 and has debt of $200,000 or more), the goal is to move to an income-driven repayment plan with low payments and then maximize loan forgiveness, whether it’s PSLF or tax credit forgiveness. PSLF options are limited for most veterans.

Reimbursement of veterinary loans

Let’s say Rachel has $225,000 in student loans at 6.8%. The average starting salary for a veterinarian is $75,000 and increases by about 3% per year. She’s not married.

So let’s compare income-based repayment (IBR), pay as you go (PAYE) and refinancing with fixed interest over 10 years.

Do you remember how to save money by either significantly reducing your loans (refinancing) or keeping your payments as low as possible and forgiving as many loans as possible (PAYE)? IBR is neither.

As you can see, IBR is certainly not the worst option. In the end, it costs Rachel $120,000 more than PAYE and almost $114,000 more than refinancing.

As far as payroll taxes and refinancing are concerned, these options are fairly close to each other in terms of payroll costs. Here are the pros and cons of each option:


  • For : Affordable monthly payments that allow them to save, invest and use the money for other financial goals.
  • For : He has 20 years to save up to pay his taxes.
  • Fraud: The balance of the loan will increase from $225,000 to $372,000.
  • Fraud: Compared to the refinancing, it will take another 10 years.


  • For : It will be debt free in 10 years or less.
  • Fraud: The total cost is about $8,000 higher and the return on investment is twice as fast.
  • Fraud: Once refinanced, it loses access to the benefits of federal loans.

Since she is also stuck with monthly refinancing payments of $2,442 over 10 years and has minimal flexibility, PAYE would be her best option.

A plan for a student loan

Is veterinary medicine worth studying?

The answer is purely financial: Yes, vet school is worthwhile, but with difficulties. The expected lifetime income of a vet, compared to the average graduate, is $450,000 after taxes, compared to $292,000 for student loans.

In my opinion, this excess weight is too great.

The difference between the salary of a veterinarian and the average graduate is not that great. Not to mention that their extensive veterinary education and training means they don’t make a living until four years later.

Moreover, there is a psychological difference between paying off student loans for 20 to 25 years without earning a significantly higher salary than the average college graduate.

While this is a popular career choice in the cattle industry, it takes a real passion for the job as paying off student loans also becomes a way of life. Things can become particularly difficult when there are additional costs associated with marriage and raising children.

If vets can maintain this long-term perspective and get a degree in medical school, a good, long career with an excellent income awaits them once they are free of their student debt.

Veterinary students should only choose this path if they are fully prepared and do not regret their decision through student loans, having predicted what their lives will be like 10 and 20 years after graduation.

It is of utmost importance that you clearly understand how the loan will be repaid and how to mitigate the financial and psychological aspects of such debt.

Veterans need student loan repayment plans

For graduating vets with six-figure student loans, debt doesn’t have to seem like a big burden. There are many excellent student loan repayment options for vets.

It is very important to find a way to not only save significant costs, but also to understand what it takes to do so.

Student Loan Planner has conducted over 5,300 student loan consultations for clients with over $1.34 billion in student loans. We can help you determine the best route in just one hour.

I work with borrowers who owe $200,000 to $400,000 in student loans. This makes me the lead counselor for most of our student loan counseling for veterans. Feel free to email me at [email protected] with questions and to learn more.

Ask me about vet school loans

Refinance your student loan and receive a bonus in 2021.

BONUS of $1,000 for 100,000 or more. 200 for 50,000 to 99,999¹.

variable 1.99% – 5.64% APR1
fixed 2.98% – 5.79% APR1

1,250 BONUS2 For 250k+, tiered bonus from 300 to 500 for 50k-250k.2

1,275 BONUS3 For 150,000 and above. Multi-level bonus from 300 to 575 for 50k to 149k.3

variable 2.39% – 6.01% APR3
fixed 2.79% – 5.99% APR3

1,000 BONUS4 for $100,000 or more. 200 for $50,000 to $99,9994.

variable 2.25% – 6.43% APR4
fixed 2.99% – 6.88% APR4

1,050 BONUS5For 100k+. 300 bonus for 50k to 99k.5

1,250 BONUS6 for 100k+ or $350 for 5k to 100k.6

1,250 BONUS7 For $150,000 or more. Multi-level bonus from 100 to 400 for 25k to 149k.7

variable 1.91% – 7.69% APR7
fixed 2.95% – 8.49% APR7

Not sure what to do with your student loan?

Take our 11-question quiz to get personalized advice on PSLF, IDR, or refinancing (including information on which lender we think can offer the best interest rate).

Do our questionnaire.

1Earnest: $1,000 for $100,000 or more, $200 for $50,000 to $99,999.99. For Earnest, if you refinance $100,000 or more through this site, $500 of the $1,000 cash bonus will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. In the above price range, an additional discount of 0.25% is included for automatic paymentInformation on income.

2Laurierweg: If you refinance over $250,000 through our link and Student Loan Planner receives the loan, a $500 cash bonus will be paid directly to Student Loan Planner. If you are a member of a professional association, Laurel Road can offer you the choice of a reduced interest rate or the $300, $500 or $750 cash bonus mentioned above. The Laurel Road proposals cannot be combined. The above price range includes an additional 0.25% discount for automatic payment. Laurel Road Disclosure.

3Fairy: If you refinance over $150,000 through this website, $500 of the above cash incentives will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Uncover Alfie.

4Sofi: If you refinance $100,000 or more through this website, $500 of the $1,000 cash bonus will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. The above price range includes an additional 0.25% discount for automatic payment. Disclosure Sofi.

5Plain Obligation: If you refinance over $100,000 through this website, $500 of the above cash bonuses will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. General Bond Disclosure.

6Valid: If you refinance over $100,000 through this website, $500 of the above cash bonuses will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Reliable dissemination of information.

7LendKey : If you refinance over $150,000 through this website, $500 of the above cash incentives will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. The above price range includes an additional 0.25% discount for automatic payment.

This source has been very much helpful in doing our research. Read more about average student loan debt veterinary school and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take a veterinarian to pay off student loans?

First off, it is important to remember that not all veterinary students graduate with an equal amount of debt. According to the AVMA, the average debt for 2011 graduates was $140,000—although that number is sure to be much higher now, given that animal medicine is one of the most expensive medical professions to enter. All that debt might seem scary, but it is important to remember that veterinarians make very good salaries. According to the BLS, the average salary for veterinarians in 2012 was $89,170. Veterinarians have some of the highest student loan debt levels of any career, and these costs can be crushing to any new graduate. The average veterinary student debt is $143,000, a figure that includes both undergraduate and veterinary student loans. This debt level doesn’t go away after school: new veterinarians must continue to pay off their loans, even while earning a relatively low salary. In this post, we’ll look at how long it would take for a typical veterinarian to pay off her student loans based on a range of different incomes.

How do vets pay off student loans?

If you’re a vet who’s struggling with student loan debt, you’re not alone. Many vets who are just out of school take on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, which hinders them from moving forward with their lives. If you’re looking for a way out of this debt, you’re not alone, either. Many vets have found a way to pay off their student loans in a timely manner. When you research a career, a college degree is often the first thing you think of. This is because a college degree is usually required to earn a living wage. You don’t have to have a degree to make money, but without one, you’ll likely make much less. For many people, especially those who don’t want to go to school for years and years, the next step is to enter a trade school or get a vocational degree.  These can be great options for people who know exactly what they want to do with their lives and just need the training to get started. But what about those who are still trying to figure it all out?

What is the average debt of a veterinary student?

The average debt of a veterinary student is a topic that stirs up many emotions in students. No one wants to accept that fact that he or she is accumulating debt, but it is a reality that students must face. The average debt for a veterinary student is around $100,000, but there are many factors that affect that number. Blog Blurb: The average debt of a veterinary student is a topic that stirs up many emotions in students. No one wants to accept that fact that he or she is accumulating debt, but it is a reality that students must face. The average debt for a veterinary student is around $100,000, but there are many factors that affect that number. In order to be admitted to A lot of people are not aware of the level of debt that a veterinarian can accrue while in school.

The veterinarians who graduate with more debt than others are generally the ones who have to buy various supplies that they need to run their practice, such as new equipment and medical instruments, and who have to travel farther to tend to the animals that need their help. For example, a veterinarian in a rural area is going to need to have a vehicle (or multiple vehicles, depending on the size of the practice) that can handle the terrain, which will increase the amount that he or she has to pay for upkeep and gas.


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