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Debt outpaces salaries
More than half of 2006-2007 grads saddled with $100,000 or more


Numbers game

The 2007 report shows most respondents owed $80,000 to $120,000, yet roughly 3.5 percent of graduates incurred more than $200,000 in educational loans. Five years ago, mean educational indebtedness totaled $72,719 (47.1 percent less than in 2007, compounded at 8 percent annually). In 1997, mean indebtedness totaled $53,648 (99.4 percent less than in 2007, compounded 7.1 percent annually).

"It is alarming that debt continues to grow at such a high rate from year to year relative to income," says Alison Shepherd, senior manager of market research for AVMA.

Dr. Michael Chaddock, spokesman for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) agrees: "It's discouraging. We want to be sure we're competing with the other health professions to get the brightest students. Our applicant pool has been flat."

But Dr. Ralph Richardson, dean of Kansas State University's veterinary medical program, insists costs of living are somewhat to blame for the higher indebtedness rate. He explains that many students live beyond their means, recalling how he left veterinary school debt-free.

"My wife and I lived in a one-room apartment and slept on a roll-out bed. You don't see many students living that way anymore," he says.

Men vs. women

Table 1
According to AVMA research, male graduates out-earned female graduates in 2007 by 4 percent, or $1,812 annually. In 2002, the difference was $1,177, or 2.9 percent, compared to $2,591, or 8.4 percent, in 1997 (Table 1).

Table 2
The same goes for fringe benefits (see Table 2), despite the fact that roughly 80 percent of all veterinary medical graduates are women, Shepherd says.

"We don't know why there is a difference in salaries and fringe benefits. However, this has been the trend."


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