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How to Pay for Dental School

Let's be real here! Most of us don't have the cash to pay outright for dental school!


After the financial commitment of a 4-year education to attain a bachelor's degree, a prerequisite for dental school, spending even more money for 4 years of dental school can be daunting.


I graduated from dental school in 2012, so I was curious to find out how the cost of dental school has changed over the years. After doing some perusing, I've found out that it has increased!


The annual cost does have a wide range which is mostly due to the institution's affiliation (state vs. private or resident vs. non-resident).


The American Dental Association (ADA) showed a range from $12,000 to $117,000. There are outliers which means there are schools that have a higher price tag attached!


Always ask about additional costs!


When researching the financial investment associated with a particular school, be sure to inquire about additional costs (rent, food, fees, equipment, parking, etc.).


But there's more! There are factors that are commonly missed which can significantly increase the financial burden.

  • The annual increase in tuition and fees

  • Inflation

  • Accruing interest on loans


Why is the cost of dental school a concern?


The thought process that justifies the high cost of dental school is the high expected income for dentists, but how true is this?


The average income of a new dentist is between $120,000-$140,000.


Considering purchasing a new home, starting a family, starting a practice, and getting that pampering session or trip that you promised yourself once you become a dentist, loan payments will make things financially challenging.


financing dental school

Options to pay for dental school:

  1. Student loans (the dreaded option due to interest and high payments)

  2. Scholarships and grants AKA free money (from dental schools or major companies who invest in education such as ASDA, ADEA, etc.)

  3. Service programs. This differs from scholarships because it does require payment and differs from a loan because the payback is not financial but time.

  4. Loan forgiveness (total forgiveness such as public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) or additional aid to decrease debt from a corporate or private employer)



Types of service programs:

Besides scholarships, this is a great way to pay for dental school without loans or to repay them.

  • Public health services (work in an area in need of dentists)

  • Military: employed as a dentist for a contracted amount of time

These are great ways to get additional experience and mentorships and a very cost-effective way to pay for dental school.


Is dental school worth the debt?

I wish I could answer this question for you! To tell you to spend hundreds of thousands, in addition to the stress attached to the school and the occupation. Only you can determine if you will be happy with this decision for the rest of your life!


All I can say is, I would do this all over again if I had to! I have been practicing for over ten years now and I am excited to learn more about this profession, I still love designing and bringing to life a smile that can transform a person's life. I absolutely love my job and it was definitely worth the investment!


I only hope that whatever you choose, you can find as much if not more joy in your career as I feel with dentistry!










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