College’s new scholarship program on track with fundraising goals

Lindsey Hidenrite was the first Nicoletti Florida Opportunity Scholarship recipient.

Lindsey Hidenrite, a member of the college’s Class of 2018, was the first recipient of the Nicoletti Florida Opportunity Scholarship. More than $800,000 will be awarded this year to UF veterinary medical students in some form of scholarship support. (Photo by Jesse Jones)

In the two years since the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine launched an ambitious scholarship initiative, the college has more than doubled the amount of scholarship dollars it awards each year to veterinary medical students.

“We have $16 million new dollars committed since the beginning of our campaign in 2015, and on the ground, we’ve doubled the amount of scholarship dollars we are awarding each year,” said the college’s dean, Dr. James W. Lloyd.

This year, the college will award more than $800,000 in scholarships to veterinary medical students, he said.

“This is directly because of the support we have received from alumni, grateful clients of our teaching hospitals and friends of the veterinary medical profession,” Lloyd said. “However, we are also currently exploring some creative and innovative new strategies.”

Known as the UF Veterinary Access Scholarship program, the initiative started due to a national conversation about how debt load is threatening to limit access to the veterinary medical profession, and how the college might be able to impact that trend.

Interestingly, this conversation has taken a somewhat unexpected turn, Lloyd said.

“Because owning a practice provides one of the best ways for a student to retire their debt, our program is creating a new discussion as to how practitioners will be able to transition their practices to new practitioners,” he said.

Lloyd said the college is now experiencing a “perfect marriage” of early alumni who are preparing to look at retirement and newer graduates looking at owning a practice.

“The student carrying a big debt load with an interest in practice ownership has a good way to offset their monthly student loan payment, as practice owners generally make more money than non-owner veterinarians,” Lloyd said. “At the same time, alumni are considering donations to the college when they sell their practices because there are often tax advantages in doing so.”

Approximately 3,000 students graduate each year from veterinary medical colleges in the United States, according to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. The most recent American Veterinary Medical Association student survey reports that these new graduates leave school with an average debt of $135,000.

“The need for veterinarians both nationally and internationally will only increase,” Lloyd said. “We feel it is our obligation, to our students, to the profession and to society as a whole, to help enhance student access, keeping our profession vibrant and robust.”

For more information about the college’s scholarship initiative, contact Patricia Wlasuk, director of scholarship giving, at or 352-294-4212.


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