How to Finance Your Dental School Education

If you've decided a career in dentistry is for you, you can rest easy knowing you're making an incredibly sound investment in your future. Dentists are traditionally in the top 5% of wage earners in the United States. And depending on the type of practice, a dentist can expect to earn between $180,000 and $225,000 a year. And that's new dentists, with ten years of experience or less. So suffice to say whatever you have to do to see your passion realized, you should go for it. However, it will certainly feel like an investment. Dental school is incredibly expensive, ranging between $25,000 and $40,000 a year depending on the school and your residency requirements. That means a massive bill when you graduate. Sure, once you're working you'll be able to afford it, but that doesn't help you now. So how do you go about financing your dental school education?

The vast majority of dental students will take out loans to get by, in fact, more than 90% of dental students each year take out some amount of student loans. It's a big commitment, and it's going to take a lot of work to get you off the ground. You need to fully understand the process of applying for financial aid, how loans are repaid, and what other specific conditions will be involved. So you should probably start out by visiting the office of financial aid at your dental school, and try to get all of your questions answered.
In short, you should ask the financial aid officer to detail every type of loan available, as well as any potential scholarships or grants you could apply for. Remember that there are merit-based scholarships, based on grades and other factors, and need-based scholarships if you are in dire financial straits. Once you're clear on all the options, find out how the school determines what level of aid a student gets. See how your parents' income will come into play and affect that eligibility, and get clear on all the upcoming deadlines.
Once you understand all of the options, it's time to head home and figure out how much money you will actually need to complete your dental education. That means looking over your current financial situation and all resources at your disposal. Take a long look at your current debts, your non-negotiable monthly expenses, and whatever income you will have while at school. Once that is complete, make a full budget for your education. That means much more than tuition costs. You need to understand all of the living expenses, transportation, books and other resources, and come up with a total figure. Then add 5% on top to leave room for any unforeseen circumstances.

Now that you know all the financial aid options and understand your personal needs, you'll have to determine your aid eligibility. Chances are you'll qualify for at least some amount of financial aid, but how much can range wildly. It will depend on your current financial picture primarily, followed by what sort of grants and scholarships you think you can earn. At this point, you might think about giving up and just earning a masters in nursing online, but look back at those salary numbers for dentists, and keep moving ahead. Take the time to look at the details of each loan program, whether government, private, or institutional, and ready yourself to apply. Keep in mind the various repayment options and interest rates, so you know what you're getting yourself into. But remember that completing the program is all that really matters.

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