It’s never too early to start thinking about your ever dreaded vet school loan repayment plan post-graduation. I recently attended a workshop on understanding loans and repayments and I wanted to share some of the information that I learned into condensed, helpful tips.
- Know you loan history.
Even though it may be somewhat depressing, you should be aware of your indebtedness and be aware of how much you have been borrowing. You can do this by going to the Federal Student Aid website and logging in. Your school may also have an easy link to find out who your loan servicer is and how much you have borrowed at this point in your education. Knowing what you owe throughout your time in school may help you budget better during, and it will avoid surprises at graduation.
- Loan repayment calculator.
There are many resources to help you calculate your loan repayments, but I like the same site mentioned above, the Federal Student Aid website. Under the “How to Repay your Loans” tab you will find the Repayment Estimator. I was able to put in my total loans currently, and can play with the calculator with different gross incomes and can see approximately what I would be paying for all the different repayment options. The calculator shows over how many months, and the total amount that you would pay over the loan repayment period.
- Understand your repayment options.
There are many different options that we have as veterinary students for repayment options. There are the standard 10 and 30 year repayment options, but we also have the choice to do a Pay-as-you-Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay-as-you-Earn (REPAYE), as well as Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and IBR for New Borrowers. Looking into all of these options now can better help you have an idea for what you want to do at graduation. The calculator mentioned above shows each of these options (if you are eligible) and it shows the total amount paid, your projected loan forgiveness, and repayment period (number of months) as well as your monthly payment.
- Loan forgiveness programs.
Loan forgiveness? Sign me up! There are several options in this category that you can research including:
- Army Loan Repayment
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- State based programs
There are also opportunities when repaying your loans under certain plans for this. For example, if you want to hurry and get your loans paid off in 10 years and if you have the means, your monthly payment will be more, you will have no loan forgiveness, but you will be done paying loans in 10 years. In a case such as Pay-as-you-Earn (PAYE), you may not have as expensive monthly payments and your projected loan forgiveness can be quite substantial, although you will be paying these monthly expenses for a longer amount of time, such as 20-30 years.
There are so many options that we have for loan repayments and although to see how much indebtedness we have accrued already can be disheartening and scary, it is better to be educated about your options and be familiar with the system as opposed to obliviously graduating with a substantial amount of debt.