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Becoming a veterinarian can be rewarding, but it’s not cheap. Vet school can cost students $200,000 or more, especially if they attend an out-of-state school. These costs are in addition to any debt you accrued during your bachelor’s degree. So before you pursue vet med, consider the costs as well as the potential return on investment when compared to other career fields.
What is the average vet school cost?
Average vet school costs hover around $200,000. Consider these figures for vet school costs from various veterinary schools around the country for 2021 graduates (the latest data available as of January 2023):
|Total cost for 2021 graduates, in-state students||Total cost for 2021 graduates, out-of-state students|
|Source: American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges|
|Colorado State University||$269,863||$378,518|
|Iowa State University||$192,405||$320,601|
|Louisiana State University||$242,917||$376,182|
|Ohio State University||$269,032||$424,468|
|University of California – Davis||$289,597||$345,674|
|University of Minnesota||$265,242||$393,269|
|University of Missouri||$217,561||$257,958|
|University of Tennessee||$239,479||$364,963|
|Washington State University||$202,673||$240,718|
Factors that contribute to vet school costs
Paying for school is more than just tuition — though tuition does play an important role. Where you attend school and how much debt you take, as well as a few other factors, will all contribute to how much you pay for your degree.
- Total cost of degree. Tuition increases every year. In addition, you will need to pay fees as well as lab costs. These will add to the total cost of vet school, which may mean you pay more than the estimated cost of the school you plan on attending.
- In-state versus out-of-state tuition. Schools typically charge less for in-state students. In some cases — like with the University of Minnesota and the University of Tennessee — the difference in total expenses adds up to well over $100,000.
- Public or private institution. Generally speaking, you’ll pay much higher vet school costs to pursue your degree at a private institution like Cornell University or Tufts University than if you choose a public college or university.
- Student loan interest. Because vet schools are an expensive investment, you will likely take out some student loans. Interest charges will add to the total cost while you’re in school and once you graduate.
- Ability to work. Working while you are in vet school can add to the stress of your studies, but it will cut down on the amount you pay if you can cover rent and daily expenses without using a loan.
- Cost of living. The area of the country will be a big factor in costs beyond tuition. Attending a school where the cost of living is lower will mean you spend less on essentials like rent and food.
How to pay for vet school
When looking for ways to pay for vet school, start with scholarships and grants — money that does not need to be repaid at the end of your education. Many schools offer scholarships directly to students, so reach out to your prospective school to ask about opportunities. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) lists many of these scholarships from AVMF-accredited schools on its website.
Scholarships and grants are available through private organizations, which you can browse using scholarship search engines.
After applying for scholarships and grants, you may have to turn to federal and private student loans to cover vet school costs. You should start by applying for federal student loans since they offer unique benefits. Since there is a cap on how much you can borrow, private student loans are often used to fill in the gaps.
Once you’ve graduated, you may be able to pursue loan repayment programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the Army Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (ADHPLRP), the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program.
The bottom line
Take the time to consider the costs of your education and how you plan to pay for it before you head to vet school. If your goal is getting the best possible return on your investment, compare the overall costs and scholarship opportunities from a few schools and apply for as much financial aid as possible. Veterinary school may be well worth the financial investment, but it will take some work to ensure you graduate with as little debt as possible.