My school loans are my chains. When I started veterinary school back in 2008, I did not have a clue what my school loans would have amounted to by the end. While in school, I borrowed only what I thought I would need to cover tuition and modest living expenses, worked 2 jobs (which is not ideal in professional school), and made an effort to spend as little money as possible. I just assumed that whatever I borrowed would be easy to pay back for a hardworking, budget-making girl like me. Unfortunately, after my first year of vet school, our tuition increased significantly. I had worked so hard to get into my dream school, so it just made sense to continue. Four years of veterinary school flew by and I was now the proud owner of a DVM degree and $170,000 of student loan debt. Mind you, this was just veterinary school. I did not have any debt up until this point. No one prepared me for this amount of debt and when that first monthly bill of $1,356 (per month) came, I had a full on panic attack. “Congratulations! Welcome to your career! Now give us all your money.” Now, I know the general public has the assumption that veterinarians make a killing, but let me inform you, WE DON’T. I couldn’t afford $1,300 a month! What was I going to do?
Fortunately, I came across an article by Travis Hornsby that put my school loans into perspective. I reached out to him for a consultation and we were able to devise a plan that set me up with an income based repayment program. This has allowed me to have a more reasonable payment and a better quality of life. Yes, it would have been great to have my loans refinanced and attempted to pay them off completely, but after all those years of school, I was ready to live a little. For me, I had sacrificed most of my youth to earn my DVM and I wasn’t willing to make more extreme sacrifices in order to pay off my student debt right away. Let’s face it, $170,000 is a crazy amount of debt, and it would have to be my life’s mission to pay that off. Everyone’s situation is different, but in order to attack this monstrous amount of debt, one must be cost conscious and at least have a plan. I do want to acknowledge some of my colleagues that have paid everything off and are free from student loans. My hat’s off to you!
Now that I am 7 years into my loan forgiveness program, I know that the amount I still owe is not worth throwing all my money into. In the end, this program will definitely save money and with my new minimalist lifestyle on board, nothing can stop me from having financial freedom. Since my discussion with Travis Hornsby 6 years ago, he has successfully helped many professionals manage their student loan debt. Travis gave me hope when I felt that I had no where else to turn. Therefore, I feel compelled to tell other colleagues about him. Not only does he stay on top of all the new laws regarding student loans, he also has a great podcast that I continue to get valuable information from. If you search some of the earlier podcasts, you might find my interview with him as well! So if you suffer from student loan debt, consider popping over to studentloanplanner.com and get a consultation. For me, it was worth every penny.
For those who are reading this and are considering professional school, I hope this is an eye-opener to what your reality would likely be after you graduate. Unfortunately for you, it would likely be much worse due to the significant increase in tuition since I graduated 7 years ago. Human medicine is a bit of a safer route as you have a better debt to income ratio (you make way more $$$) and will most likely qualify for better tax breaks. I applied to vet school because I thought it would be a rewarding career and that I would be financially stable for life. Although much of it has been rewarding, I certainly haven’t felt financially stable with $170,000 in debt. That is a ridiculous amount! Why is our educational system so messed up that students who want to study hard and make a change in the world are faced with this crippling debt? My student loan debt has been a gray cloud that always seems to follow me despite my best efforts to deal with it head on. Would I have chosen this path having all this information? Who knows. However, I do hope that the next generation takes this to heart. I fear that eventually, professional school will only be an opportunity for those that come from a wealthy family. Although, there is still hope for change. If you find that your true calling is to be a veterinarian, then start out with a financial plan. Live at home if you can. Borrow as little as possible. Go to an in-state school. Eat ramen noodles. Avoid non-accredited schools that may leave you $300,00+ in debt. Be smart.
OR be Michael Scott “Yes. Money has been a little tight lately. But, at the end of my life, when I’m sitting on my yacht, am I gonna be thinking about how much money I have? No. I’m going to be thinking about how many friends I have, and my children, and my comedy albums. I mean, I have a yacht, so I obviously did pretty well money wise.”