Becoming a veterinarian can be rewarding, but it’s not cheap. Vet school can cost upward of $200,000, and even more if you attend an out-of-state school. And remember, the cost of veterinary school is on top of what you’ve already paid for a bachelor’s degree. This is part of the reason average veterinary school debt is so high.

Before you decide to become a veterinarian, it’s crucial to consider the costs associated with earning this degree, 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, but this varies by school, whether your an in-state or out-of-state student and more. Consider these figures for vet school costs from various veterinary schools around the country for 2021 graduates:

Total cost for 2021 graduates, in-state students Total cost for 2021 graduates, out-of-state students
Colorado State University $269,863 $378,518
Cornell University $256,572 $338,122
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

Source: American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges

Factors that contribute to vet school costs

One of the biggest factors impacting the price of a vet degree is whether you choose to attend veterinary school in your state or as an out-of-state student. In some cases, like with the University of Minnesota and the University of Tennessee, the difference in total expenses for in-state and out-of-state students adds up to well over $100,000.

Another factor to keep in mind is whether you choose to pay vet school tuition at a public school or a private institution of higher education. 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 you will if you choose a public college or university.

Other factors that can contribute to the cost of veterinarian school include where you live and whether you’re able to work during school to cover basic living expenses. If you take out student loans, interest charges will add to the total costs as well.

How to pay for vet school

When looking for ways to pay to vet school, it’s typically best to 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 you may start by reaching 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 also available through private organizations; you can browse for relevant scholarships using scholarship search engines.

After applying for scholarships and grants, you may have to turn to federal student loans and private student loans to cover vet school costs. You should start by applying for federal student loans, since they offer unique benefits, but 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 you can. Veterinary school may be well worth the financial investment, but it could take some work to ensure that you graduate with as little debt as possible.

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