Objective—To assess student awareness of the financial costs of pursuing a veterinary education, to determine student expectations for financial returns of a veterinary career, and to identify associations between student debt and factors such as future career plans or personality type.
Sample—First-year veterinary students at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
Procedures—In 2013, prior to the first day of class, all incoming first-year students received an email invitation to complete an online survey. The survey contained questions about demographics, current financial situation, current debt, expected debt at graduation, expected annual income following graduation, intent to pursue specialty training, and Myers-Briggs personality type.
Results—72 of 102 (71%) students completed the survey; 65 respondents answered all relevant questions and provided usable data. Student responses for expected debt at graduation were comparable to national averages for veterinary college graduates; responses for expected annual income following graduation were lower than averages for University of Minnesota veterinary college graduates and national averages. However, students predicted even lower annual income if they did not attend veterinary college. Expected debt and expected annual income were not correlated with factors such as personality type or future career plans.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that first-year veterinary students were aware of the financial costs of their veterinary education and had realistic expectations for future salaries. For typical veterinary students, attending veterinary college appeared to be financially worthwhile, given lower expected earnings otherwise. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2015;247:196–203)