Dental school is the most expensive professional-degree program in the United States. Annual tuition ranges from $38,000 to $67,000, and the average student graduates with a whopping $300,000 in debt. The cost and the dread of post-graduation debt is enough to steer a potential dentist away from the field. However, several loan programs have been created to relieve students of the stressor of tuition over their four years.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Offered to both undergraduate students, as well as students working toward a graduate or professional degree (think: doctorate in dentistry). Students can file a FAFSA to be considered.
- 1.062% fee on loans.
- 6.6% interest rate for graduate and professional degree students vs. 5.05% interest rate for undergraduate students.
- Dental students can borrow up to $20,500 per year toward their degree.
Federal Grad PLUS Loans: Government loans specifically for graduate students; more expensive than unsubsidized loans.
- 4.326% loan fee, four times higher than that of the Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
- 7.08% interest rate.
- Dental students can borrow up to full tuition.
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Loans: HRSA oversees programs that assist dental students to obtain their degrees. These two programs are overseen and administered within dental schools.
- The Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS) Program: Offers low-interest loans to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Health Professions Student Loans: Administered to students with demonstrated financial need.
- 5% interest rate, no origination fees.
- Funds are limited; not all will qualify. Students interested must seek these programs out through their dental school.
Private Student Loans for Dental School: These loans can offer lower rates and fees than federal student loans, making them cost-effective. But, finding the right lender is important.
- A good credit score is needed to apply. If not, you will need to consider choosing a cosignor with a better score.
- Shop around and compare rates, fees, and repayment plans to ensure the best deal.
TIP: Don’t neglect the in-school financial aid office. Faculty in the office are equipped to answer questions about loans, grants, scholarships, repayment plans, and more. The counselors will be best able to answer specific questions about which option is best for you and your education.
Talk of dental school tuition can seem overwhelming, but no one will regret having a plan for financing in place. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”