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Obtain a College Degree Debt Free

Yes, you read that right! No, this isn't a magic trick. Anyone can do it.

The cost of a college education can be a major roadblock, in pursuing your Dreams.

Especially, for the lower income communities and households.

Regardless, of where you come from, accumulating so much debt is a daunting commitment to face.

This blog is intended to help students that come from the most expensive countries for attending college and help to provide an alternative path of achieving the same goals, but without the burden of so much debt.

Yes, there are Full-Ride Scholarships available, but the majority are not star athletes and the competition is fierce for a limited amount of Academic Scholarships handed out each year.

If you fall into the category of needing to pay your own way through college, this blog is for you!

In each section, there are links to various related resources that will help you in your research.

Before you read on, ask yourself:

  • How important is being debt free to me?

  • Am I willing to commit myself to obtaining my Dreams?

  • Am I willing to do whatever it takes?

  • Am I willing to learn a foreign language?

  • Am I willing to live abroad?

We never said this journey would be easy, but it is obtainable.

Read on, for inspiration.

What are the Costs for a US Degree?

The tuition costs for a basic four year college degree is anywhere from $102,000 to over $176,000, in the US.

Being the majority will require student loans at roughly 4.49% interest rate and take up to 20 years to payoff debt, the total actual cost for a degree is $193,596 to over $334,048, once fully paid off.

That's just for a basic four year degree...

In this blog, we will be referencing the path of becoming a veterinarian, as an example, but the techniques will apply for whichever career path that you choose.

Extended education is something that the majority of specialty careers require such as in practicing medicine to become a doctor or practicing law to become a lawyer.

In the US, if interested in becoming a veterinarian, once obtaining a basic four year Bachelor's degree, you will then have to attend a four year College of Veterinary Medicine program.

The cost of a four year college of veterinary medicine program ranges greatly, by the university. The costs for tuition ranges from $80,000 to over $500,000.

Congratulations! After eight years, you are now a US graduated veterinarian with $182,000 to over $676,000 in student loan debt.

Once again, with the majority requiring student loans at roughly 4.49% interest rate and taking up to 20 years to payoff debt, the total actual cost for a degree in veterinary medicine is $345,436 to over $1,283,048 once fully paid off.

Equation Calculation:

4 year Bachelor's Degree:
  • Tuition fees $_____ x 4.49% APR = $____ interest per year x 20 years = $_____ interest paid over 20 years + $______ tuition fees = $_______ total cost once paid in full.

8 year Veterinary Degree:
  • Tuition fees for 4 year Bachelor's _____ + _____ Tuition fees for 4 year Veterinary College = $______ x 4.49% APR = $_____ interest per year x 20 years = $_____ interest paid over 20 years + $_____ tuition fees = $_______ total cost once paid in full.

Keep in mind, only 39.8% of students obtain a bachelor's degree within four years. Any additional time will have increased the student loan debt.

Are you feeling intrigued and inspired yet, to learn how to achieve the same degree above, but without all the debt?

As with anything worth pursuing in life, the journey can be long, the sacrifices can be great, but the rewards of achieving your Dreams is beyond comprehension.

Path for Being Debt Free

If you haven't figured it out by now, our path guidance to helping you obtain your college degree requires you to become an international student, in pursuit of your Dreams.

As we mentioned above, our example to achieving a degree debt free is based on becoming a veterinarian, but the same strategies apply for any career path.

Step 1: Research

1st: Research which countries are the most affordable places to study abroad.

2nd: Research which one of those countries has a university that offers your particular field of interest as a major. In this case, Veterinary Medicine.

3rd: Consider cost of living, cost of tuition per year and time needed to learn a new language. Choosing a country that you have a desire to live in and a desire to learn the culture is something to also take into consideration.

4th: Research what type of Visa you need to apply for and how to apply.

For this example, we have settled on the country of Taiwan.

Taiwan's very affordable and integrated education programs offer many courses available in English across 40 universities. Taiwan is also a great place to learn Mandarin, because a large portion of the population can speak English at various levels.

Cost of living, in addition to Taiwan's tuition fees are considerably less than the US.

Taiwan has multiple universities that offer a 5 year program for obtaining a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, in addition to offering extended education.

That's right! A Doctorate Degree in only 5 years.

National Chiayi University Department of Veterinary Medicine

National Chung Hsing University College of Veterinary Medicine

National Pingtung University of Science and Technology College of Veterinary Medicine

Take note that your specific certification obtained in another country may not be recognized within your home country, but most countries including the US have equivalency programs that address this. (Detailed examples of this in Step 5)

Taiwan is a beautiful country focused on education, is deep in culture and history.

Step 2: Tuition Costs

The tuition costs for the first two years is $2,079 USD per semester. Then for the following years it is $1,034 USD.

At the end of completing your five year DVM degree, you can anticipate $14,520 USD in tuition fees. If you needed financial assistance through student loans, you can anticipate paying 5.49+% APR for a five year loan.

Not a typo! Receive a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 5 years for a total of $14,520 USD in tuition fees.

Step 3: Cost of Living

The cost of living in Taiwan as an international student is quite affordable.

Depending on the accommodations that you choose, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,200 - $7,700 USD per year.

In comparison, the average cost of living for a student in the US is $9,000 to $16,000 USD per year.

Step 4: Plan

Learn the Language

For this example, let's assume you do not know how to speak any Mandarin.

Depending on your commitment level to learn Mandarin, it is estimated that you can become fluent speaking in roughly 1 -2 years with dedicating two hours per day.

Living in Taiwan and interacting with Mandarin on a daily basis will dramatically help in learning to speak the language.

You will benefit greatly if already familiar with Mandarin, prior to moving though. A great language learning program is Rocket Languages.

A good plan would be to dedicate 6 - 12 months towards learning Mandarin, prior to moving to Taiwan.

Once in Taiwan, you can continue advancing your fluency of speaking Mandarin in country, prior to attending the Veterinary Medicine National Taiwan University.

Keep in mind, this is just our example of obtaining a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in Taiwan. For people interested in other career fields, you can research any of the over 100+ courses available in English at the 40+ major universities in Taiwan.

Again, applying the same commitments for whichever country you decide on studying aboard from.

Whichever country you decide on, learning the language is a must.

Arrange Finances and/or Employment

Depending on your financial situation, you may either have some support from your parents, from your community and/or have savings built up.

Prior to moving to Taiwan, dedicate yourself to reducing expenses, remaining debt free and saving money.

Although, the cost of living is less in Taiwan, you'll want to carefully budget your money.

Seek employment in Taiwan, if needed, to help pay for expenses.

Register to University

Once you have reached a comfortable level of speaking Mandarin, register to the University of your choice.

If student loan financing is needed, use the resources provided to you by the university.

Step 5: Working in the US

At this point, you would have graduated from the 5 year DVM program offered by the Veterinary University in Taiwan and now you want to move back home and begin practicing.

Taiwan Veterinary Medicine Universities are not accredited colleges of veterinary medicine and are not recognized by the US.

The good news is there are two major programs that are setup specifically for overcoming this obstacle.

You will need to apply and pass an equivalency course, to obtain a vet license within the US.

Upon passing the equivalency tests, you are now free to practice in the US, as though you obtained a much more expensive degree in country.

If veterinary is not your career path, you can skip this section and continue reading at Comparisons.

The links below are to the top most recognized and accepted programs.

Both programs have their advantages and disadvantages. Here's a brief breakdown:

PAVE is a one year program within an accredited veterinary college and costs around $45,000 for tuition.

PAVE is recognized by 46 states and territories in the United States, all provinces and territories in Canada*, as well as the countries of Australia and New Zealand. The AAVSB works continuously to see PAVE recognized in more jurisdictions.

*Canada only recognizes PAVE Certificate holders who passed the QSE since September 2014

ECFVG is a self study assessment test where you study on your own and show up for a three day examination course and costs around $10,000. (Keep in mind depending on your level of knowledge, studying for tests can be a 30-90+ day commitment)

ECFVG is the only veterinary educational equivalency certificate that is recognized in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Depending on your needs and on your desired location to work/live, as you can see both programs offer different options for US and international locations.

Beyond the differences of locations, a couple key elements to consider are:

  • Cost of program

  • Length of program

PAVE is considerably more expensive and is a year long program within an accredited veterinary college in the US. It does provide an opportunity for invaluable hands on experience, also to meet and make connections over the course of the the year long program.

Having references can help tremendously, if planning on going beyond being a veterinarian and becoming a surgeon or specialist in another field.

ECFVG is a more independent and streamlined approach to receiving your vet license within the US and is a considerably less expensive option. If you prefer to go the independent route and/or already have a job lined up, this is probably the better option.


Education Timeline:

US 8+ years for DVM Degree
  • 4 years general Bachelor's Degree + 4 years Veterinary of Medicine

Taiwan 6-8 years total, for Pre learning language, DVM program and Equivalency
  • 1 to 2 years Learning Mandarin + 5 Years DVM Degree Program


  • 1 year PAVE Program OR 30-90 Day ECFVG Commitment

Total Costs of Degree & Additional Education / Equivalency Courses:

  • $182,000 to over $676,000 in student loan debt over the 8 years.

  • $14,520 in tuition fees over the 5 years.

  • $10,000 for the 3 day ECFVG equivalency program test (Keep in mind depending on your level of knowledge, studying for tests can be a 30-90+ day commitment)


  • $40,000 for the 1 year PAVE equivalency program course

Regardless, even with the added costs for the equivalency programs, your total education costs are still substantially less than acquiring your degree within the US.

Cost of Living per Year:

  • $9,000 to $16,000 depending on region

  • $5,200 to $7,700 depending on region


As you can see, if you are willing to commit yourself to overcoming a few major obstacles, in pursuit of obtaining a degree and more importantly achieving your Dreams, it is absolutely possible for you to graduate with a degree debt free.

Did you know that the majority of careers that require a Bachelor's degree, have a starting salary for which makes paying off the large student debts within 5 years be impossible, when considering the cost of living expenses to salary ratio?

This means that at the age of 17-19 years old, teenagers are forced to make a commitment towards something that will take longer than they have been alive on this earth to pay off.

You can be Debt Free

You can obtain a Degree.

You can achieve your Dreams.

  • If willing to do the research

  • If willing to learn a foreign language

  • If willing to live abroad

  • If willing to commit

  • If willing to do whatever it takes

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