Unless you have money saved up or someone to help you out, such as a spouse or parent, debt is inevitable when it comes to vet school. The rising costs of education are forcing us, students, to accumulate “negative money” in the form of student loans.
Using the FAFSA form online each year, the government calculates what each student’s expected contribution should be to their own education — usually based upon current income, investments, etc. From there, your school receives that information and provides you with a financial assistance package that (at UC Davis) consists of subsidized and unsubsidized loans, grants, and scholarships, which if you have no income or investments is predominantly coming from unsubsidized loans.
Grants & Scholarships are considered “free money” — you don’t have to pay this money back and you do not owe interest on this money.
Loans, on the other hand (and as the name implies), you have to pay back.
- Subsidized loans are for students with financial need. While you are in school (at least half-time) you will not accrue interest on these loans as the interest is subsidized by the government until you begin to pay back the loans. These are better than unsubsidized loans.
- Unsubsidized loans are given to students regardless of financial need. Interest accrues from the start and unless you pay interest each year, you will pay interest on the interest that has accrued, so it compounds rather quickly and exponentially.
Other students may have to or choose to acquire personal loans from places such as Wells Fargo, Chase or Sallie Mae. These may be provided at a higher interest rate than government loans but, as the name implies, you must personally take out these loans with the lender as your school’s financial aid package will not usually include these.
No matter how you choose to pay for vet school (with the exception of those who are fortunate enough to have the money), debt is inevitable. Learning to live with student debt can be difficult, but you will make it through!