If you’re wondering how to pay for dental school, you’ll find this article useful. In this guide, we will explore various ways to pay for dental education, including how to pay for dental school without loans. Whether you want to become a dentist or an orthodontist, specialized education in many medical fields can be expensive.
As a result, you will need to consider how to afford dental school. In this guide, we’ll discuss various ways to pay for your dental education, such as using a private lender, private and federal grants, private and federal scholarships, dental school loans, and more.
How Much Does Dental School Cost?
The National Center for Education Statistics states that, in 2009, the average cost of dentistry school was $37,543 in the US. However, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), the average dental school tuition and fees for first-year resident students were $55,521 between 2020 and 2021, meaning that dental school costs are rising rapidly each year.
There are various ways dental students can cover payment costs for dentistry school, which we will explore in more detail below. Additionally, note that the costs for dental school may vary depending on the dental school you attend, its location, the degree you opt for, and other related costs for dental school.
Can I Pay for Dental School Without Loans?
You can pay for dental school without taking out loans, but it can be challenging. However, significant financial planning and discipline in sticking to it could help you achieve this. Whether it is through working and accumulating savings, sticking to a strict budget, or finding a sound loan repayment program, you can graduate dental school debt-free.
Acquiring help from a financial adviser may also help you prioritize and strategize a successful plan of action for dental education costs.
Top 5 Tips to Avoid Dental School Loans
- Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and PhD combined. Some public schools offer these combined programs. Dental school students commit to these competitive programs that require research or a dissertation in addition to completing the DDS and PhD program. The programs cover the full dental school tuition with a stipend for living expenses.
- National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarship. The NHSC provides 330 competitive dental students with full-ride scholarships, monthly stipends, and possible loan forgiveness programs, each year. However, scholarship recipients are required to work in a Health Professionals Shortage Area for one year for each year awarded.
- DDS Military Health Professions scholarship. Through committing to four years of US Army, Navy, or Air Force service after graduation, these scholarships pay full dental school tuition. Dental student applicants must already have their bachelor’s degree and have received acceptance into a dental program before seeing the recruiter.
- Part-time study and work. Dental students can opt to study part-time and work simultaneously to pay for dental programs. This will take considerable discipline and planning. Note there is a locum tenens dentist assignments option for part-time work.
- Private sponsorships. You could get sponsorship for dental school tuition from family, friends, or other private arrangements. This will require you to ask for help or make arrangements with the person, people, or company willing to help.
How to Pay for Dental School: 8 Ways to Pay for Dental School
1. Personal Savings
If you are considering a dental career and you have personal savings, you may opt to use your savings to pay for dental school. Alternatively, you may use only some of your personal savings to reduce the cost, choosing another method for the remaining balance. Creating a budget can be helpful, which is something you can do with a financial advisor if you need help.
2. Private Student Loans
Private student loans can help pay for dental school tuition. Private student loans usually have limited repayment and postponement options compared to federal student loans. Private student loans’ interest rates may be variable or fixed, depending on the loan provider. Lower interest rates can require a credit-worthy cosigner.
Private student loans usually have terms, such as annual and cumulative caps on borrowing amounts. Note that private loans such as these are not eligible for payment with income-driven repayment plans, nor are they eligible for forgiveness or Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
3. Dental School Scholarships and Grants
Dental scholarships and grant opportunities are the best bet for a dental student, as you don’t need to pay them back. These scholarships could come from the school or a third party. Eligibility may be based on merit, need, or both. Some dental scholarships require service commitment, such as the National Health Service Corps scholarship.
You can get more information and help with your application for financial aid at the Financial Aid Office at your dental school provider. Make sure you check the eligibility requirements, terms, and conditions for these financial aid options.
4. Private Dental Scholarships
Private dental scholarships are another terrific financial aid option as you don’t need to pay them back. These dental scholarships are awarded by organizations that aren’t affiliated with the dental school you attend. These can be found online, for example, through the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) scholarships section.
Ensure you report to your dental school’s financial aid office once your scholarship is received. The total financial aid received from all sources may not exceed the total cost of dental school attendance, including outside private scholarships.
5. Work-Study Programs
While you will likely not have time to work while attending your dental school program due to the demanding curriculum, you can work part-time if you plan your schedule adequately, and this can help you pay off your dental school tuition. The financial aid office at your school can provide information about work-study programs.
An example of a work-study program is a Doctor Of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) and PhD program combined. Regardless of the work-study program, make sure you check the terms and conditions and eligibility requirements, as they are demanding and competitive programs. The government also offers a federal work-study program depending on qualifying students.
6. Fellowships and Traineeships
Your school’s financial aid office can usually provide you with information on the available programs for fellowships and traineeships. These programs have eligibility requirements, application deadlines, and terms and conditions. Some provide stipends to help you pay for living expenses and textbooks or materials.
Make sure you fully investigate what you are committing to and ensure you can meet the requirements. As an example of a fellowship program, the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) provides only six fellowship programs to students each year to pursue careers in oral health research.
7. Dental Student Loans
Unlike grants or scholarships, student loans need to be paid back to the lender, whether they are private student loans, dental school student loans, or federal student loans. These loan options come with interest rates, monthly payments, and terms and conditions that you should understand before committing.
Competitive interest rates may be available depending on your credit score or by having a credit-worthy cosigner. Some school-based student loans are interest-free. Examples of the kinds of dental student loans available include federal direct unsubsidized loans, a federal direct PLUS loan, health professions student loans, loans for disadvantaged students, institutional or school student loans, and private loans.
8. Dental School Debt Forgiveness Programs and Loan Repayment Programs
Once you have completed your dental school education, if you work for a nonprofit organization, teaching hospital, or government organization, you might be eligible for one of the available state and federal dental school debt forgiveness programs. These loan forgiveness programs only apply to federal loans.
One of the requirements is to have already made 120 consecutive federal student loan payments, among other requirements. Below are several examples of debt forgiveness and federal loan repayment programs that you should consider:
- State dental school debt forgiveness programs
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
- National Health Service Corps Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
- Health Resources and Services Administration Faculty Loan Repayment Program
- National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Programs
- Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
- Military Loan Repayment Programs
Note that these all have different eligibility requirements, terms, and conditions you should be well acquainted with before committing.
Is Going to Dental School Worth It?
Yes, going to dental school is worth it if you are interested in a lucrative career involving oral hygiene and helping people with their oral healthcare. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a dentist is $164,010 per year. Now that you have multiple financing options for dental school education costs to consider, all you need to do is apply and put into action the plan that suits your financial needs.
How to Pay for Dental School FAQ
It takes most people around eight years to become a dentist. You will need to acquire a bachelor’s degree before applying to dentistry school. There is no guidance on what specific bachelor’s degree you should get. However, you should have completed at least two or more semesters of biology with lab, inorganic or general chemistry with lab, organic chemistry with lab, physics with lab, and English.
No, you usually can’t become a dentist without a bachelor’s degree, as most dental students already possess a bachelor’s degree before entering dental school. Furthermore, few dental schools will accept dental students into early admissions programs with two or three years of undergraduate education.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of an orthodontist is $267,280, per year. This amount varies based on location, type of practice, and level of experience.
ISAs are typically a poor option for dentistry students. This is because ISAs require the borrower to pay back a percentage of their salaries. Dentistry is a high-paying job, and repayments, in this case, may exceed the student loan balance.
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