Financial Literacy

An Iowa State University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree is a great value for our students.

Our resident and non-resident tuition and fees rank near the bottom of the nation's veterinary colleges. Iowa State is ranked as the lowest for the total related costs of education for Iowa residents and 28th out of 31 schools for non-residents.

Still, becoming a DVM is expensive. The average student debt for all students was $130,845 in the 2020-2021 academic year.

Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine is working to slow the growth of the cost of a veterinary education by continuing to grow the school's scholarship program, which has increased 10 percent over the past three years. For the 2022-23 academic year, almost $2 million in scholarships were awarded to DVM students.

Financial literacy for DVM students begin long before starting veterinary medicine classes. The key to a student's financial success rests with properly managing your limited budget. Here are a few helpful hints for DVM students to reduce the stress associated with financial hardships.

  • Choose your undergraduate school wisely
    At least two years of undergraduate education is typically needed to meet the prerequisites required for admittance to veterinary college. Students should consider their undergraduate education with its associated costs and needed potential loans. By attending an in-state public college or university, students have the opportunity to reduce the amount of student loans accumulated prior to veterinary school.
  • Banking 
    Before choosing a bank, visit their website or local branch. Free checking and saving accounts for students are available from some financial institutions and others do not require a minimum account balance to avoid fees. Students should check if their bank has ATM access in Ames and if there are fees for using out-of-network ATMs. 
  • Make a budget and stick with it
    It is imperative that students develop a financial budget and maintain it throughout the four years of veterinary school. Unexpected expenses will occur, but students should plan on only spending what they need. After developing a budget, keep a detailed record of what you spend and regularly check back to see if you are staying within that budget.
  • Borrow only the amount you need
    Almost all veterinary students will borrow funds at one point in their four years in school. By making a budget, students will be able to secure loans for only the amount needed. Never borrow your maximum amount unless your budget requires that.
  • Find part-time employment
    A veterinary course of study is extremely time-consuming and challenging. Still many students have the opportunity to work a few hours a week and/or during the summer months. These paychecks won’t cover your tuition but can provide extra funds for incidentals and expendable income. And a summer job instead of an unpaid internship will help reduce the amount of loans needed the following fall.
  • Don’t bring your horse to Ames
    You have had your horse for years and can’t imagine life without it in Ames. Several veterinary students who have brought their horses and other animals to town find little free time to spend with their four-legged friends. Don’t bring your horse to Ames unless you have a plan to pay the boarding fees.
  • Study, study, study
    The better your grades the better the opportunity to receive some of the $2 million in scholarship funds awarded every year at Iowa State.

Managing Student Loans and the Repayment Process

Before borrowing funds for their education, students should learn about the loans so that they understand what they need to consider before deciding to take out a loan. The Federal Student Aid website provides detailed information on available federal loan programs, as well as repayment plans, loan consolidation, deferment and forebeance. Information on the types of financial aid available to students is also available.

There are additional programs that provide scholarships or deferments including:

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers a personal financial planning tool that allows individuals to build a personalized estimate of veterinarians' budget needs so plans can be made on how to repay debt in an acceptable time frame while also saving for the future. 

A variety of budget and cost of living calculators are also available:

piggy bank with veterinarian in background

Additional Financial Literacy Resources