How to pay off your vet school loans faster

Refinancing vet school loans is a lot like refinancing other student loans. Here’s what you need to know about the process.

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As a vet, you might have a significant amount of student debt. If you want to refinance your vet school loans, here’s how to do it. (Shutterstock)

Becoming a vet can be a very lucrative career path. The average starting salary for vets going into corporate practice was $106,053 in 2021, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. But even with a salary of that size, it may take you a while to pay off your student debt. 

If you’re looking for ways to pay off your vet school loans faster, refinancing could be a solid option. Here’s how to figure out whether it’s the right choice for you.

By visiting Credible, you can learn more about student loan refinancing and compare rates from multiple private student loan lenders.

How to refinance vet school loans

Refinancing veterinary school loans works in much the same way as refinancing other student loans. It involves rolling multiple federal or private student loans into a new private loan, ideally with a better interest rate. 

If most of your loans are federal student loans, you may be better off consolidating them into a Direct Consolidation Loan instead of refinancing. A Direct Consolidation Loan comes with income-driven repayment options, forbearance, and access to student loan forgiveness programs. If you decide to refinance federal student loans with a private lender, you’ll lose those federal protections.

Whichever option you choose, the process for refinancing your loans works like this:

  1. Shop around for the best rate. Obtain quotes from three to five lenders so you can be sure you’re getting the best rate.
  2. Choose a lender. Once you have the quotes in hand, choose the lender that works best for you.
  3. Fill out a loan application. Answer questions related to your personal details, income, and your existing debt.
  4. Sign the paperwork. If you’re approved, you’ll read over the loan documents and sign on the dotted line.
  5. Start making payments on your new loan. Once the paperwork has been signed, the lender will disburse the funds. Keep making payments on your existing loans until you get written confirmation that they’ve been paid off. Then you’ll start making payments on your new loan.

Requirements to refinance vet school loans

Private student loan companies set their own requirements for refinancing, so they can differ from lender to lender. But in general, lenders will look at the following: 

  • Sufficient work history Your lender will look at your work history to ensure that you’re capable of making your loan payments.
  • Good credit score Lenders consider your credit score as an indicator of how likely you are to pay back the loan. If your credit needs some work, apply with a cosigner who has good credit to increase your chances of being approved and of getting a better rate.
  • Decent debt-to-income ratio Lenders also look at your debt-to-income ratio, which is a measure of how much income you have compared to your existing debts, before approving you for a loan. This helps them determine if you have sufficient income to handle an additional debt payment.

You can easily compare prequalified rates from multiple lenders using Credible.

What to consider about vet school refinancing

Like any other financial decision, refinancing your vet school loans has both advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of refinancing

  • You might save money. Depending on current interest rates and your new loan term, there’s a good chance that refinancing can lower your monthly payment.
  • You’ll only have a single payment. If juggling multiple payments is difficult for you, refinancing can help you streamline them into a single payment.

Cons of refinancing

  • You will lose federal loan benefits. If you refinance federal student loans with a private lender, you’ll lose access to federal benefits like deferment, forbearance, and student loan forgiveness programs.
  • You may have to meet some lofty financial requirements. Generally, refinancing with a private lender means having to meet strict financial requirements with your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. But you can always apply with a cosigner to help strengthen your financial profile.

Best lenders to refinance vet school loans

While there aren’t many lenders who specialize in refinancing vet school loans, most lenders who refinance student loans will accept loans for veterinary programs. When evaluating potential lenders, consider the following criteria:

  • Interest rate Look at the lowest rate offered by each lender and whether they offer a fixed interest rate or variable interest rate.
  • Loan term It’s important to consider how long your repayment period will be, so you can plan how long you’ll be making loan payments. Consider what different repayment options are available to you.
  • Maximum loan balance Find out whether or not you can borrow enough to cover your existing debt.
  • Fees Make sure you’re aware of any fees the lender will charge for refinancing your student loan debt.
  • Discounts — If the lender offers discounts, see which ones you’ll qualify for. For example, many lenders offer a rate discount if you set up automatic payments.
  • Cosigners If you think you’ll need a cosigner, check whether the lender offers the ability to release your cosigner after you’ve made a certain number of payments.

Alternatives to refinancing

If you don’t think refinancing your vet school loans is right for you, here are some alternatives to consider. Keep in mind, these options won’t help you pay off your loans faster, but they could make your monthly payments more manageable. 

  • Income-driven repayment plans Federal student loan borrowers have the option to choose an income-driven repayment plan, which limits your monthly payment to a percentage of your current taxable income and household size.
  • Forbearance — Forbearance temporarily pauses your student loan payments, but interest continues to accrue on your loans and will be added to your principal balance at the end of the forbearance term.
  • Deferment Loan deferment also temporarily pauses your payments, although usually for a longer period of time than forbearance. You may need to have a qualifying life event in order to qualify for deferment. For federal loans, the federal government will pause interest from accruing while you’re in deferment.

To get started on refinancing your student loans, visit Credible and compare prequalified rates from multiple lenders.