With the new school year just underway, chances are that you have recently been dealing with the not-so-glamorous part of professional school – financial aid – and are making yourself sick over how much money you are going to owe after you graduate. Navigating vet school and figuring out how to best fund your education can be a challenge. Here are some tips for keeping the debt down and some explanations of the different types of financial aid available to you. Everyone’s financial situation is different and each individual needs to consider the best long-term options for their particular situation.
1) Set a budget and stick to it. Don’t live beyond your means. Remember that every penny you borrow will have to be paid back plus interest! Just because you qualify to take out a loan for more doesn’t mean that you should! Take out what you need to cover school, and if possible, get a part-time job to help with living expenses.
2) Get a job. Even though you will be facing the challenge of juggling your classes, exams, and other vet school activities, even just working part-time can take a huge load off of your debt. If you use the money from your part-time job to pay for your fun times out with friends and groceries, this will pay off in the end! Kill two birds with one stone by finding a job in your area of interest, such as in a research lab, or as a veterinary assistant to help add to your CV.
3) Get a roommate or live on campus. Most schools have apartments for graduate students that are much more affordable than getting your own apartment off-campus. If you live on campus, you also save on gas and can ride your bike to class to get some exercise! If you do get an apartment or rent a house off-campus, having a roommate will help to cut costs tremendously.
4) Apply for scholarships. There are many public and private scholarships available. Ask your registrar’s office for a list of scholarships for graduate students for which you may qualify. It never hurts to apply!
5) Consider joining the Army. This is not for everyone, but every year there are several students who attend veterinary school and decide to join the Army. There are many benefits to joining the Army and having your education funded through them. This is also an option for loan repayment for students who have already graduated. Click on the links below for more information about the Army veterinarian benefits to see if this may be a good option for you.
Types of Financial Aid:
1) Grants. These accrue no interest and do not have to be paid back after graduation. Check to see if you can qualify for a grant.
2) Scholarships. These accrue no interest and do not have to be paid back after graduation. Many graduate school scholarships are from private donors or funds, or are funded by professional organizations. Your financial aid office should be able to give you a list of these scholarships for veterinary students at your school. Many students don’t apply simply because they do not know these are available.
3) Subsidized Loans. While you are in school, no interest accrues. These are awarded on the basis of financial need. The federal government subsidizes the interest during the time you are in school.
4) Unsubsidized Loans. These loans charge interest from the time the money is disbursed until the loan is paid in full. This is capitalized interest, so you will pay interest on the interest that has accrued as well.
5) Personal Loans. These are loans that you get from the bank or private lender. The interest may be higher than government loans. These will not be eligible for consolidation.
Should you consolidate your loans? Click here for more information:
Because of all of the different options and different needs of individuals, it is best to talk to a financial aid advisor to set a plan and goals for your spending while you are in school. Contact your financial aid office for guidance.