Personal Finance

How Much Is Vet School?

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The average cost of four years of veterinary school is more than $200,000 for in-state students and $275,000 for out-of-state students, according to the VIN Foundation, a nonprofit that offers veterinarians education and support.

Here’s how the most and least expensive vet schools stack up, and a breakdown of options students have for managing the costs of getting a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, or D.V.M.

How much vet schools cost

How much you’ll pay for vet school depends on the school you attend and where you live. The Association of American Veterinary Colleges tracks tuition and living expenses for resident and nonresident students at all accredited veterinary schools.

These are the U.S. vet schools at which the class of 2019 paid the most and the least for those costs, broken down by in-state and out-of-state students.

Most expensive vet schools

Least expensive vet schools

You can use the AAVMC Cost Comparison Tool to review expenses at all 30 U.S. schools with accredited veterinary programs. The tool also lists the costs for the 12 accredited international vet school programs, where the least expensive option — at the University of Guelph in Canada — costs $228,211 for tuition and living expenses.

Managing the cost of vet school

Attending a vet school in the state where you’re a resident typically offers the best deal. Even the most expensive in-state veterinary program, at UC Davis, costs less than all but four other U.S. veterinary schools for out-of-state students.

If your home state doesn’t have an accredited veterinary program or you want to attend school elsewhere, try to establish residency where you plan to enroll. Typically, this involves living in that state for at least a year and proving you intend to stay there.

» MORE: How to establish residency to get in-state tuition costs

Because in-state programs still have an average cost of more than $200,000, you should take some steps to manage veterinary school costs no matter where you find a seat:

  • Find free money. Like with other educational programs, the best way to pay for vet school is money you don’t borrow — such as grants, scholarships and fellowships. These are available for veterinary students. Ask your school’s financial aid office for details.
  • Use savings, if possible. Students often start vet school right after completing their undergraduate degree. But if you know vet school is in your future, look for ways to save as a college student without needing to set aside money from a full-time job.
  • Then, take out loans. Most vet students turn to debt: Roughly 83% of class of 2018 veterinary school graduates took out student loans for vet school costs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Among those students, the average vet school debt was $183,014, not including any undergraduate loans.

While the cost of an expensive vet school — and its potential debt — may seem worth it if you’ll earn more money as a result, earning more isn’t necessarily the case.

“There’s no data that says you will make more or less based on which school you attend,” says Dr. Tony Bartels, a member of the VIN Foundation’s board of directors.

Vet school costs and salaries

The AVMA reports the average vet salary for class of 2018 graduates is $76,633. Ideally, you’d want to borrow no more than that projected starting salary in vet student loans, but that may not be possible with the more than $200,000 average cost of a traditional four-year veterinary school.

Facing a potential debt-to-income ratio of more than 2:1, most students will want to opt for federal loans to cover vet program costs.

Facing a potential debt-to-income ratio of more than 2:1, most students will want to opt for federal loans to cover costs for a D.V.M. Federal loans have options like income-driven repayment plans to help veterinarians keep loan payments manageable, based on their earnings.

If you can borrow less — or end up earning more — additional repayment options, such as refinancing your vet school loans, might make sense for you.

This article originally appeared on NerdWallet