How Can I Become a Vet Tech With All This Student Loan Debt?


Dear Steve,

30k+ in both subsidized & unsubsidized loans through Navient

Currently unemployed; switching careers!

Student at Penn Foster Online for Veterinary Assistant Program; Intend to attain vet tech degree as well.

only 3k in savings, which is accounted for in bills.

Hey Steve! I have loans dating back to 2008. Initially I wanted to lower the payments; However, your articles make me want to get rid of them altogether. Right now I can apply for forbearance but I don’t want that to ultimately increase what I owe, especially since the number has NOT changed despite my timely payments. I feel as if there will never be progress with my loan payments. Ultimately, how can I get myself out from under this boulder that is loan debt?

Thank you! I look forward to learning more!



Dear Sarah,

Congratulations on your efforts. But I’m wondering if your choice is right for your goal. I would suggest you try and make appointments with ten veterinarians or their office managers in your area and talk to them about the path they suggest to becoming a vet tech.

Here is why I think that is important. In the culinary field I have been receiving a number of questions from people who went to some expensive culinary school. Yet many chefs say they place little credit in those programs. They’d rather take someone under their wing and teach them the cooking skills they need.

Our local veterinary clinic has people who started without experience, became vet techs after a period of time, and then went on to veterinary school.

So while I get the fact you want to pursue this field, I just urge you to make wise economic choices before you leap. Graduating does not equal a job but it will equal debt that you have to service or money you will have to pay. You know what that’s like from dealing with your older loans.

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One fact many overlook is that a good job and experience does not always require a degree first. In looking through job postings for vet techs I see that a lot of them are looking for experience, and not degrees. Some are looking for graduates of AVMA accredited programs. The Penn Foster in Arizona is AVMA accredited. – Source

So maybe one strategy is to get your foot in the door, build experience with a veterinary practice and then use your income to pay your way through the Penn Foster course which says the tuition for the Veterinary Assistant course is $899. – Source

Keep in mind that besides the job experience you will need to land a vet tech position, and the Vet Tech course certification, you may also need to pass state certification or a course like this one to become a licensed vet tech.

So all that being said, you will still drag along your old student loan debt with you as you proceed on this journey. And you are correct, if you put your old loans into forbearance it will just increase what you owe. So you’ll have to make at least the minimum payments, default on the debt, or consider talking to a bankruptcy attorney to see if your specific debt might be eligible for bankruptcy discharge.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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