Student loan forgiveness and repayment programs

In this article:
  • Explore programs that can help you pay down veterinary student debt. 
  • Understand the tax implications of using these programs.
  • Find out how to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program.
  • See how the AVMA supports and protects these government programs.

Devoting part or all of your career to public service, nonprofit work, or rural practice can be a strategy to manage student debt. If these career paths interest you, there are government-funded programs you should know about.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining debt on eligible loans for borrowers who have worked at least 10 years in public service or the nonprofit sector. It's a powerful resource for veterinarians working in public health, public service, or private nonprofits.

To qualify for and use PSLF, there are important rules to follow. We've broken those down for you in Making PSLF Work for You.

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) pays up to $25,000 a year toward qualified student loans of eligible veterinarians who work in areas designated by the federal government as having veterinary shortages. Qualifying veterinarians agree to serve in these areas for at least three years. Learn more about VMLRP and how to apply on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.



Student loan repayment

State-funded programs

Some states offer their own loan repayment or forgiveness programs for veterinarians. Contact your state veterinary medical association for more information.

Income-driven repayment plans

Income-driven repayment plans (IDRs) are available to borrowers with direct federal student loans based on income level. They offer debt forgiveness, but they differ greatly from Public Service Loan Forgiveness and other programs because the borrower has to pay taxes on the amount of debt that’s forgiven at the end. Learn about different types of income-driven repayment plans in these learning modules about loan repayment strategies on My Veterinary Life.

AVMA supports these programs

AVMA is a leading advocate for public policies that support veterinary borrowers and help reduce veterinary educational debt, as well as programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which improve rural America's access to needed veterinary care. Find out more about AVMA's advocacy work related to student debt and access to rural veterinary care.

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