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How Much Does Vet School Cost?

How Much Does Vet School Cost?
Rebecca Safier
Rebecca SafierUpdated April 8, 2023
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Veterinarians work in private clinics, hospitals, farms, and other settings to care for the health and well-being of animals. While the profession can be very rewarding and lead to a six-figure income, the path to become a veterinarian often comes with a high price tag. The cost of vet school for four years can be $200,000 or more, according to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). If you attend a school as an out-of-state resident, the cost of vet school, including living expenses, can exceed $450,000 at the most expensive colleges. If you’re thinking about becoming a veterinarian and wondering how much does vet school cost?, read on for information about application fees, tuition costs, housing, and more. 

Vet School Application Fees

Before you start your veterinary studies, you’ll need to apply to programs. This is just one cost of vet school. When you submit your electronic applications through AAVMC, you’ll pay $227 for the first program you apply to and $124 for each additional program. If you apply to four veterinary schools, for example, expect your application fees to total $599. If you apply to six schools, you’ll pay $847 in application fees. If you have financial need, you may qualify for an AAVMC application fee waiver for your initial application fee. Apply early, since these fee waivers are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and can run out. 

Tuition Costs of Vet School

How much is vet school? The tuition costs of vet school can vary widely depending on the school and whether or you’re getting in-state tuition. You can use AAVMC’s cost comparison tool to review costs at accredited veterinary programs. Here’s a look at tuition costs for in-state and out-of-state residents for the graduating Class of 2021 at 10 of the priciest veterinary programs in the U.S. Note that your total cost of attendance would be higher, as these tuition costs don’t include supplies, housing, or other living expenses.
In-state resident tuitionNon-resident tuition 
University of California - Davis $132,100$181,080
Colorado State University $155,295$250,200 
The Ohio State University $149,601$285,367
University of Minnesota$140,231$252,056
Cornell University $146,102$217,332
University of Arizona$141,657$218,157
Michigan State University $138,666$238,967
University of Wisconsin - Madison $122,690 $194,383
University of Florida$115,160 $182,000
University of Tennessee $116,716 $226,320 
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What Impacts How Much Vet School Costs?

Veterinary school tends to be expensive, but your vet school cost will vary depending on the school you choose. Here are five major factors that can impact how much vet school costs. 

In-state vs. out-of-state school 

Tuition costs can vary widely depending on whether you’re an in-state resident or out-of-state student. At Michigan State University, for instance, in-state tuition for the Class of 2021 was $138,666. For non-residents, it was $238,967, which is about $100,000 higher. If you want to keep costs down, consider attending an in-state public veterinary program. 

Public or private institution 

Public colleges tend to have lower costs than private institutions, especially if you’re a state resident. If you’re not a resident of the state, however, the costs tend to be comparable. 

Cost of living 

When you pursue your degree, in addition to tuition, you’ll also have to cover food, housing, and other living expenses. The cost of living can vary significantly from one location to the next. It could be worth researching the cost of living in various areas when deciding which veterinary school to attend. 

School fees 

Besides tuition, you may also have to pay for other school fees, such as lab fees. You can usually find a full breakdown of your cost of attendance on each school’s financial aid website. Comparing your total vet school cost of attendance, rather than just the tuition cost, can give you a better sense of how much school will cost in total. 

Student loan interest rates 

Finally, any student loans you take out can have a major impact on how much veterinary school will cost you. When you borrow loans, you pay back the full amount you borrowed plus interest.A high interest rate could lead to high monthly payments and increased costs over time. If you’ll be borrowing student loans for vet school, make sure to shop around and compare your options so you can find a loan with the lowest cost of borrowing. If you have a loan with a high interest rate, you might want to consider the option to refinance student loans. You could potentially get a lower interest rate and more favorable loan terms.Recommended: Is Becoming a Veterinarian Worth It?

Paying for Vet School

As you’re determining how much does vet school cost, you have several options for covering the expense. Here are some avenues to explore to help with vet school cost: 
  • Grants and scholarships. Both grants and scholarships are forms of gift aid that don’t need to be repaid. Your school might award scholarships to qualifying students, and you can also apply for awards from private organizations. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) lists various veterinary school scholarship opportunities on its website. You can also explore options for need-based aid.
  • Savings. If you have savings from a previous job or another source of income, you could draw on those to pay for your degree. Working part-time while you’re in school could also help you cover living costs. 
  • Federal student loans. If you have a gap in funding, a federal student loan might be the way to go. Graduate students can borrow Direct unsubsidized loans and grad PLUS loans to pay for school. Federal student loans are eligible for a variety of repayment plans and forgiveness programs. 
  • Private student loans. If you need additional funding, a private student loan can help. Private loans have fixed or variable rates. The rate you get will depend on your credit, income, and other factors. If you can’t qualify on your own, you may be able to apply with a cosigner. 
If you borrow student loans, it’s also worth exploring your options for student loan forgiveness programs and repayment assistance programs. Some states, for instance, offer student loan assistance to veterinarians who work in shortage areas. Depending on where you work, you might qualify for significant help toward your student loans. 
  • Student loan refinancing. This might be an option if you’re burdened with high-interest private student loans. What student loan refinancing is potentially helpful with is getting you a lower interest rate, which could save you money if you qualify. You can also choose new repayment terms. 
Keep in mind, though, that refinancing federal student loans turns them private. How refinancing affects student loan forgiveness is that it could make you ineligible for these programs. You also lose access to income-driven repayment plans and other federal protections. Consider both the pros and cons to decide if student loan refinancing is right for you

The Takeaway

Attending veterinary school can be an expensive endeavor. Most accredited veterinary programs cost well over six figures, with the vet school cost being highest for out-of-state students or those attending private institutions. Student loans can help you cover costs, but be careful not to take on more debt than you can afford. Depending on where you work after graduation, you might qualify for loan forgiveness or assistance programs. There are also grants to pay off student loans you can look into to see if you qualify. It may be worth exploring your options for student loan refinancing, especially if you can get a lower interest rate, and as long as you don’t need access to federal forgiveness programs and protections. If you think student loan refinance might be right for you, Lantern can help you find and compare rates and terms from multiple lenders to help you find the best offer for your needs.Explore your options for student loan refinancing with Lantern.

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Photo credit: iStock/AzmanL

About the Author

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier has nearly a decade of experience writing about personal finance. Formerly a senior writer with LendingTree and Student Loan Hero, she specializes in student loans, financial aid, and personal loans. She is certified as a student loan counselor with the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC).
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