Virginia and Maryland residents have access to one of the most affordable veterinary education's in the country, according to recent figures from the Veterinary Information Network. The latest rankings of 31 veterinary schools in the United States and Caribbean place the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in the No. 4 spot for total in-state cost. (Oct. 1, 2013, Editor’s note: Since this article was written, the college has risen in the Veterinary Information Network rankings to the No. 3 spot for total-in state cost.)

This figure includes the cost of in-state tuition and living expenses. The rankings also place the college in the No. 1 spot for affordable living expenses.

“We take pride in not only offering world-class professional training to our Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students, but also in delivering that education at an affordable rate,” said Dr. Jacque Pelzer, director of admissions and student services at the veterinary college. “The low cost of living in Blacksburg helps alleviate some of the financial burden that our students face during their four years with us.”

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine is located on the campus of Virginia Tech, nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Because of its award-winning services, reasonable cost of living, safety, moderate climate, and abundant leisure activities, Blacksburg is consistently ranked among the country’s best places to live by publications such as Blue Ridge Country magazine, Men’s Journal, 50 Best Small Southern Towns, The Sporting News, and Retirement Places Rated.

Blacksburg and the surrounding area have received a number of community accolades in recent years. Bloomberg Businessweek magazine named Blacksburg the best place in the U.S. to raise kids in 2011, and cited it as the best city to raise a family in 2012. Forbes magazine has also identified the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metro area as the No. 5 best small city for jobs.

Outside magazine ranked Blacksburg a top-10 “dream town” for outdoors enthusiasts because of its proximity to the Appalachian Trail and the Washington-Jefferson National Forest. The area’s natural resources for hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, and climbing are enjoyed by many.

Living expenses in Blacksburg, along with the area’s many amenities, may have factored into the decision of more than 1,200 prospective students who submitted applications to the veterinary college last year. According to figures from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the college had the fourth largest applicant pool in North America in 2012. Based upon applications already received, an even larger applicant pool is expected this year, Pelzer noted.

The first three years of the veterinary curriculum are spent in classrooms and laboratories in the college’s Blacksburg campus. Students complete 12 months of clinical rotations for their fourth year. Although most of these take place at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg, some students travel to other locations such as the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center in College Park, Md., or the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va. Both Virginia and Maryland residents pay in-state tuition rates at the regional college.

The Class of 2017 arrived on campus last month after making it through a highly competitive admissions process. This year’s prospective students — who must submit their applications through a common application — have until Wednesday, Oct. 2 to apply.

Written by Michael Sutphin.

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