The average DVM degree debt for veterinary students has been increasing by approximately $5,400 per year for the last 16 years, but was much lower last year, rising just $1,363 between 2015 and 2016, according to the newly-released 2017 AVMA & AAVMC Report on the Market for Veterinary Education.
It’s too early to tell if last year’s decrease signals a new trend. The increase in the previous year, from 2014 to 2015, was $7,111, according to the report.
The new report is now available free of charge to all AVMA members and Student AVMA (SAVMA) members. It’s the second report in the four-part Veterinary Economic Report Subscription series, which is available for purchase by all interested parties but provided to AVMA and SAVMA members as a downloadable PDF.
The debt-to-income ratio for graduating veterinary students – a key indicator in assessing the economic health of the veterinary profession – held steady in 2016 at approximately 2-to-1, according to the report. The debt-to-income ratio, known as the DIR, connects the market for education and the market for new veterinarians.
The new report also offers other key findings related to the economics of veterinary education. Among these:
- About 14 percent of graduating veterinary students surveyed by the AVMA in 2016 reported no debt, up from approximately 11 percent the previous year.
- 93.1 percent of last year’s veterinary graduates had found full-time employment or received offers to pursue continuing education at the time the survey was conducted, while 6.9 percent had not.
- From 2001 through 2016, the mean starting salary for new graduates increased from just under $40,000 to more than $58,000 – a mean increase of $1,220 per year.
- The number of applicants to veterinary medical colleges increased slightly in 2016, to 6,667, and increased even further in 2017 to 7,071 – the most since 1981.
- In 2016, 40.2 percent of veterinary school applicants said they would be willing to pay up to $150,000 for veterinary education. That was an increase from 37.1 percent of applicants in 2015, but both figures represented a sharp drop from 2014, when 53.3 percent of applicants said they would pay that much for veterinary schooling.
- New veterinarians finding employment in public practice consistently had the lowest debt load during the 2001-2016 period, while new veterinarians pursuing internships and residencies had the highest.
We encourage all AVMA and SAVMA members to download and read their free copy of this report, as well as the 2017 AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets, released in April. The remaining reports in the series –examining the markets for veterinarians and veterinary services – will be released later this year.