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7 Best Student Loans for Vet School of November 2020

Ryan LaneOctober 19, 2020

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Veterinary school students should opt for federal student loan benefits and protections when taking on debt.

Roughly 83% of veterinarians in the class of 2018 took out student loans for vet school, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Those students graduated with an average debt of $183,014 for their doctor of veterinary medicine degree — more than twice the projected $76,633 starting salary for veterinarians.

To keep loan payments manageable, the majority of students should choose federal student loans for vet school rather than private loans. Opt for low-cost federal health professions student loans first, if you can qualify, then turn to unsubsidized direct loans and graduate PLUS loans.

Here are our picks for the best student loans for vet school, plus what you should know about each before borrowing.

Summary of Best Student Loans for Vet School of November 2020

Our pick for

Most borrowers as a first option

If you can’t qualify for a low-cost federal health professions student loan, federal direct unsubsidized loans should be your top choice for vet school.

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Fixed APR

2.75 - 4.30%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Graduate students can receive only unsubsidized direct loans. They can take out up to $20,500 annually in these loans, which may not be enough to cover vet school costs.

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

  • Subsidized loans do not collect interest while in school or during deferment.

  • Lower interest rates compared with private lenders.

Cons

  • You pay an origination fee.

Qualifications

  • No credit check or minimum income is needed to borrow.

  • Loan amounts for undergraduates: $5,500 year one, $6,500 year two, $7,500 year three and thereafter, up to a total of $31,000

  • Independent students and graduate students have higher loan limits.

  • Undergraduate interest rate fixed at 4.53%, while grad students get higher 6.08% rate.

Available Term Lengths

10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.

Disclaimer

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Our pick for

Manageable payments after vet school

Both unsubsidized federal student loans and graduate PLUS loans qualify for income-driven repayment plans that limit payments to as little as 10% of your discretionary income.

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Fixed APR

5.30 - 5.30%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Grad PLUS loans have higher interest rates and fees than unsubsidized loans but let you borrow more money.

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers compared with private lenders.

  • All borrowers who attend a school authorized to receive federal aid can qualify.

Cons

  • May have higher interest rates compared with private lenders.

  • You pay an origination fee.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify without a hard credit check.

Qualifications

  • Grad PLUS loan borrowers must not have adverse credit history.

  • Borrowers with adverse credit history can still receive a grad PLUS loan by enlisting a co-signer without adverse credit history or documenting extenuating circumstances for their credit history.

  • Loan amounts: Total cost of attendance minus other financial aid.

Available Term Lengths

10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.

Disclaimer

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Our picks for

Borrowers with good credit

Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan

Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.56 - 13.42%

Variable APR

3.65 - 12.40%

Min. Credit Score

mid-500's

Check Rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

3.65 - 12.40%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Ascent's undergraduate student loan. Ascent offers a medical student loan for D.V.M. students that lets you postpone payments for 36 months after leaving school.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.

  • Grace period of 9 months is longer than many lenders offer.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • You must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify.

  • Fixed rate loan only offers 10-year repayment term.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Not available.

  • Minimum income: Not available.

  • Loan amounts: up to $200,000.

Available Term Lengths

7, 10, 12 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Richland State Bank (RSB), Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 10/01/2020 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 2.00% (for undergraduate future income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates . 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must have a minimum credit score. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.
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College Ave Medical Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave Medical Student Loan

College Ave Medical Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.79 - 9.95%

Variable APR

1.39 - 8.99%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website


Variable APR

1.39 - 8.99%

Key facts

CollegeAve’s medical school loans let you defer payments for up to 36 months after school.

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.

  • You can defer payments up to an additional 48 months during fellowship after your grace period.

Cons

  • You must be at least halfway through your repayment term before you can request a co-signer release.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Mid-700s.

  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance.

Available Term Lengths

5, 8, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

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Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.25 - 12.35%

Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Sallie Mae's undergraduate student loan. Sallie Mae offers vet students a medical school loan with a 36-month grace period and 48-month deferment during a residency or fellowship.

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.

  • Borrowers can access online tutoring and free credit score tracking.

  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a U.S. co-signer.

Cons

  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Information not available on minimum qualifying credit scores or income.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Available Term Lengths

5 to 15 years

Disclaimer

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount: Fixed 4.25% - 12.35% APR and Variable 1.25% - 11.15% APR. Interest rates for Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. You're charged interest starting at disbursement, while in school, during your separation/grace period, and until the loan is paid in full. The repayment option that is selected will apply during the in-school and separation/grace periods. When you enter principal and interest repayment, Unpaid Interest will be added to your loan's Current Principal. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs are valid as of 06/25/2020. and assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans. Additional information regarding the auto debit discount: Borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month and may be suspended during periods of forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan. Loan amounts: $1000 up to 100% of the school certified expenses: Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Repayment term of 5 to 15 years: This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.51% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $124.69 and one payment of $66.91, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,661.42.
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Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.53 - 10.72%

Variable APR

3.39 - 10.09%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose


Variable APR

3.39 - 10.09%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for WellsFargo’s undergraduate student loan. Veterinary students cannot defer payments on Wells Fargo’s MedCAP student loan during a residency.

Pros

  • You are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.

  • One of the few lenders to offer loans to borrowers enrolled less than half-time.

  • More payment reduction options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

Cons

  • Shorter length of hardship forbearance than most other lenders.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Only borrowers with existing Wells Fargo student loans are eligible.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: No minimum.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $120,000

Available Term Lengths

15 years

Disclaimer

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Citizens One Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.25 - 11.53%

Variable APR

1.21 - 10.97%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website


Variable APR

1.21 - 10.97%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Citizen One's undergraduate student loan. Citizens One offers vet students an aggregate loan amount of $350,000, higher than some other medical professions.

Pros

  • Six-month grace period extension is available.

  • Loyalty discount for existing Citizens Bank customers.

  • Multiyear loan approval is available.

Cons

  • You must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Does not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $100,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Student Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from1.21%-11.36% (1.21%-10.97% APR).Fixed interest rates range from 4.25%-11.95% (4.25% -11.53% APR).
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Types of student loans for vet school

You may be able to pay for vet school with multiple types of student loans:

Federal health professions student loans

Vet students may be able to take out Health Professional Student Loans and Loans for Disadvantaged Students. These loans are funded by the federal government, but not the Department of Education. That means they have some key differences — both good and bad — from federal direct and PLUS loans:

  • Lower costs. HPSL and LDS have fixed interest rates of 5% and no origination fees. Unsubsidized loans and PLUS loans have fees of roughly 1% and 4%, respectively. Health professions loans also don’t accrue interest while you’re in school.

  • Longer grace periods. Federal health professions student loans don’t enter repayment until 12 months after you graduate — that’s twice as long as other federal loans.

  • Limited availability and funding. HPSL and LDS are available only to students with financial need or from disadvantaged backgrounds at participating vet schools. The amount you’ll receive is up to your school’s discretion and available funding.

  • Fewer repayment options. Your school will determine your repayment term for these loans. Because HPSL and LDS don’t come from the Department of Education, they aren’t eligible for programs such as income-driven repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You can consolidate HPSL and LDS into the federal student loan program to access these benefits. This is different from private loans, which can’t be transferred to the federal program.

You can apply for HPSL and LDS by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. You will need to include your parents’ financial information on this form to qualify.

Federal unsubsidized and PLUS student loans

Veterinary students may be eligible for two types of federal student loans: unsubsidized direct loans and graduate PLUS loans.

Unsubsidized loans have lower interest rates and fees than PLUS loans, but also a smaller borrowing maximum for graduate students — $20,500 per year. Take that max in unsubsidized loans, then use PLUS loans to cover up to the rest of your cost of attendance.

You can apply for federal student loans by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. You don’t have to provide your parents’ financial information to receive these loans — and likely shouldn’t to ensure your expected family contribution is as low as possible.

Private student loans for vet school

You may be able to get a private loan for vet school with a lower interest rate and smaller fees than federal loans have, depending on your or a co-signer’s credit score and financial history.

Many private lenders offer specific student loans for health professionals, including those studying for a D.V.M., as well as loans available to all graduate students. You can use either to pay for veterinary school, so compare all your options to get the best deal possible.

Some states offer forgivable private loans, but you typically must commit to working in a shortage area to qualify. For example, Missouri provides $20,000 loans to eligible students who plan to practice large animal veterinary medicine in an area of need.

Which student loan for vet school is right for you?

Most likely, federal student loans will be your best bet for vet school. When paying off vet school loans, many vets may need the income-driven repayment plans that only federal student loans offer.

Consider this: The average vet school debt of $183,014 would come with monthly payments of more than $2,100 on a standard, 10-year repayment plan, assuming current interest rates. Under the Revised Pay As You Earn income-driven plan, those payments could shrink to less than $500, based on the average vet salary of $76,633 for new grads. You would likely pay more overall on REPAYE’s 25-year repayment term, though.

If you’ll borrow less — perhaps much less — than your projected starting salary, you may pay less by qualifying for a lower interest rate with a private student loan. But federal loan protections better minimize your risk. If you don’t need those protections once you’re practicing, refinancing vet school loans with a private lender could lower your interest rate and save you money.

Last updated on October 19, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Student Loans for Vet School of November 2020