If passed, the new bill would allow borrowers to pause interest accumulation and loan repayment while pursuing additional veterinary training and education.
Representatives Kurt Schrader, DVM (D-Ore.), and Ted Yoho, DVM (R-Fla.), introduced bipartisan legislation this week aimed at making veterinary students in internship or residency programs eligible for interest-free deferment on their student loans. The Veterinary Education and Training Minimizes Educational Debt Act (H.R. 6134, dubbed the VET MED Act) is supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
As veterinarians and co-chairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, these politicians have a good grasp of the overwhelming cost of veterinary education today.
“There is a debt crisis in the veterinary community,” Rep. Schrader says in a press release about the legislation, noting that the VET MED Act “is an important step in fostering the talents of the next generation of veterinarians.”
Many veterinarians make educational loan payments during their residency, internship and PhD programs, accumulating significant interest in the process. This presents significant fiscal challenges in recruiting veterinarians for specialized training, as the average residency salary in 2018 was around $35,000, according to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. The new legislation would pause interest accumulation and loan payment during training.
“Residencies and internships are critical to preparing veterinarians for high-need specialties like emergency medicine, oncology and large animal medicine, but during this time spent in additional training, veterinary borrowers face massive interest accumulation that can make loan repayment feel insurmountable,” said AVMA president John Howe, DVM, adding that this new act is a critical step in alleviating this debt burden. “We’re thankful to representatives Schrader and Yoho for introducing this bill,“ he said in the release.