The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median wage for a Vet Tech in 2006 was $12.88 per hour. That computes to an annual salary for a full time Vet Tech around $27,000. While that is a good starting salary for a new graduate, it does not leave much room in the budget for debt payments. One key for your success in your new career will be to graduate with as little debt as possible. Here are seven simple (but not always easy) steps you can take.
1. Attend an In-State School If Possible
The difference in cost between attending school in-state of out-of-state is very high. Out-of-state tuition costs do vary from state to state. Here is one example though. A community college in Tennessee, with a fully accredited vet tech program, charges $487 per semester hour for the first 12 hours and $73 per each additional hour for an out-of-state student. For a 15 credit hour semester, that is an additional $6,063 per semester. Adding that up for a four-year degree is more than $48,500. It would take you almost two full years of salary to pay off the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition.
2. Apply For Scholarships and Grants
Apply for every scholarship and grant you are eligible to receive. I do mean every. Apply for the scholarships and grants that the average award is only $500 to $1,000. Combine multiple small scholarships and grants and they will quickly add up. You may even be surprised and awarded a larger-than-average amount. Also, apply for those you are only 75-80% qualified for. What is the worst they will say, “No?” You cannot be awarded the scholarship or grant if you don’t apply.
3. Avoid school loans. This is an article on how to graduate with your vet tech degree debt free.
4. Avoid credit cards. Again, this is about graduating debt free.
5. Work While You Attend School
Working part-time or full-time while you attend school is a sacrifice. Your schedule is often full between classes, homework and study, and work. However, this is how you pay for the tuition that scholarships and grants do not cover and allows you to avoid the school loans. This is also how you buy things like food, gas, clothing, and other essentials permitting you to avoid credit cards. Work through the summer saving as much as you can to help you get through the school year; especially if you find it too difficult to work full-time and attend school full-time.
6. Live At Home
If you are fortunate enough to have an accredited vet tech school close to your home, chose to live there. Why? Free place to stay, free food, free cable, and free internet are just a few reasons. If your goal is to graduate debt free then save the cost of getting your own place or room and board on campus. This will save you a substantial amount of money while you are in school. Even if your parents want you charge you some room and board for living there as an adult and to help you adjust from the teen years to adulthood, you will probably get a much better deal than anywhere else you will find.
7. Drive Cheaply
Yes, I mean drive a paid-for economical vehicle. Car payments get expensive. So does gasoline for larger vehicles. You can save thousands of dollars while you are in school if you drive a smaller, fuel-efficient, non-financed vehicle. You may not have the coolest car on campus, but you will be taking a huge step in graduating debt free.
8. Make Debt-Free Choices
These are allows easy. It is difficult to continually tell your friends, “no,” when they ask you to go out to eat. Eating bologna sandwiches every day for lunch gets old. It isn’t always easy to shop for clothes at discount or thrift stores instead of the name brand places. Almost every choice we make has some kind of financial consequence, especially when they are made in hast. Get in the habit of thinking through those choices and how they will impact your ability to graduate debt free.
9. Say ‘No’ To School Loans And Credit Cards.
Why do I list these twice? Simple. These are the two biggest areas of debt most students graduate holding. If you do everything in your power to avoid these then chances are you will be successful in gradating debt-free with your vet tech degree.
Having accomplished these goals you will be able fully enjoy your new career as a vet tech instead of being burdened with payments from your few years in school.
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