Paying for a Veterinary Medical Education

Scholarship Opportunities:

Each college has scholarships that prospective students could inquire about and a number have scholarships for dual degree students seeking graduate degrees such as the PhD in discipline-based research programs. Students and prospective students are encouraged to contact AAVMC member institutions directly about scholarship aid opportunities as many scholarships are awarded at the local level. To review average scholarship award information by institution, please visit the Cost Comparison Tool.

There are also non-institution specific scholarships available.

  • Zoetis and the AAVMC invite second- and third-year veterinary students to apply for the Zoetis/AAVMC Veterinary Student Scholarship Program. Each scholarship is $2,000 and eligibility criteria include academic excellence, financial need, diversity, sustainability, leadership and career path. Over the first five years of this scholarship program, Zoetis has awarded scholarships to over 2,700 exceptional veterinary students. Applications are available at Vetvance. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation offers scholarships and scholarship information for non-institutional scholarships. These lists may not be comprehensive and we encourage applicants and students to research additional scholarship opportunities, as well!

Remember to incorporate your scholarship awards into your overall budget to maximize the benefit of these awards.

Federal Student Loans for Graduate Students

The vast majority of veterinary students who borrow for their education do so through the federal student loan program. If you borrowed federal student loans as an undergraduate student, there are some differences between the programs:

  • There are currently no subsidized federal student loans available for graduate students. This means that graduate student loans accrue interest while you are in veterinary school.
  • The interest rates for graduate student loans are generally higher than for undergraduate student loans.

For an overview of federal student loans and repayment options, please the AVMA’s My Veterinary Life website. This series of short videos includes an overview of the various income-based loan repayment and forgiveness options available through the federal student loan program. The Veterinary Information Network Foundation’s Student Debt Center offers additional in-depth resources

Private and Personal Loans

Private loans may be available to you should you have additional needs beyond the loan package offered through the Federal student loan program. It is important to remember that that terms for both private and personal loans can vary significantly and that repayment options available for federal student loan borrowers, such as income-based repayment or loan forgiveness options, are not available for other types of loans.

Career-specific Loan Repayment Program

The U.S. Army

  • The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps offers a full-tuition scholarship, plus a monthly allowance, in exchange for military training and reserve service. Learn about a veterinarian who benefited from the program.
  • Army Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (ADHPLRP) This program repays up to $120,000 over three years to repay veterinary school loans.
  • Public service and non-profit careers: Under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, borrowers can have payments forgiven after 10 years in exchange for working full-time in certain public service jobs. For more details on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program in the veterinary profession, visit AVMA PSLF.

Rural and Food Animal Practice

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) that will pay up to $25,000 each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve for three years in areas where there is a designated shortage of veterinarians.

Research and academic careers:

  • Many research and academic institutions may be qualified employers for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program encourages promising young researchers and scientists with DVMs or other health professional doctoral degrees to pursue research careers by repaying up to $35,000 of their qualified student loan debt each year.
  • Federal Faculty Loan Repayment Program (administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) This program will repay up to $40,000 in student loans for eligible health professions faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds including veterinary medical college faculty. Individuals selected to participate in the program agree to serve on the faculty of an accredited health professions college or university for 2 years. Participants should also receive matching funds from their employing educational institution.

Budgeting and Personal Finances

Budgeting can seem overwhelming but it starts with a simple first step: tracking your expenses.

Practicing the simple habit of recording your expenses and reviewing them on a regular basis is a great way to get started on the road to good financial practices!

  • Keeping track of your expenses and keeping a personal budget will allow you to make informed decisions when it comes time to develop a loan repayment strategy.
  • Knowing your spending habits and your personal and professional goals will help you develop a plan for your future.

There are many different resources and tools available to assist you with expense tracking and budgeting. Select a tool that works for you, whether that is an app-based program, a program tied to your existing financial institution, or a notebook or spreadsheet that you maintain. Additional information on personal finances for veterinary students can be found at My Veterinary Life

The AAVMC's work includes ongoing support for both public and private initiatives designed to reduce veterinary student debt through scholarships and loan-forgiveness programs. Click here more information on AAVMC’s work with the Veterinary Debt Initiative.

Do you know of other loan or scholarship options that students should know about? If so, please email jjohnson@aavmc.org and let us know.