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Since the 1970s, the cost of post secondary education has outpaced inflation. There are a number of reasons for this, and no indication that this trend will change in the coming years. This cost has led to escalating student debt assumed by graduates.
Of course, veterinarians fall into this clash between cost and debt. The data from an American Veterinary Medical Association student survey shows an average total debt of $135,000 for graduates, with a mean starting income of $67,000 (for those who joined a private practice). With current student interest rates, it would take a vet 20 years to repay that debt at about $967 per month.
New equine practitioners fare poorly. Vets who specialize with horses averaged $18,163 less than the starting salary for new colleagues working in small animal practices.
It will take creative solutions to solve the issue, according to leadership at Michigan State University’s (MSU) College of Veterinary Medicine.
“The veterinary medicine profession and education are at a critical juncture,” says Julie Funk, associate dean for academic programs and student affairs, MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Student debt rates are creating a tremendous burden for students, so we have to reinvent how we educate our students to ensure their success and well-being.”
The vet school is reviewing several ways to improve this issue, including shortening the time of getting a degree, while still producing qualified graduates. To accomplish this, the school may allow students to focus more on species of their desired practice.