Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Dental School Loans

The vast majority of dental students will require some amount of financial aid to offset the cost of dental school. With dental student loans rocketing ever higher, most of us would be unable to afford it on our own. If you are reading this page then I assume that like me, you are not so fortunate as to have wealthy parents or a winning lottery ticket.

So you don’t come from money, you chose not to join the military, and NHSC just doesn’t interest you? Welcome to the party! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then please take a look at my article about paying for dental school because there are some great options there for just about anyone. Otherwise, let’s talk a bit about student loans.

Your first step in securing financial aid is filling out a FAFSA for the school you plan to attend. You can fill out a FAFSA for multiple schools if you haven’t yet decided where you want to go. The FAFSA may take a few days to process, but you should receive a confirmation email shortly after you finish.

Next, the schools you listed on the FAFSA will receive your application for financial aid and process it. If you are approved, then voila, you just signed off on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt! Wasn’t that fun?

Not so fast!

These days schools and the government want to be sure that you know what you are getting yourself in to. You will probably be required to complete some online workshops to learn about student loans, debt management, and budgeting. If you don’t keep up with this stuff on your own, then you should pay really close attention to what they are telling you. Too many students are getting huge loans and have no idea where to start when paying it back.

If I can give you any advice it is to live frugally, budget wisely, and in most cases go to the cheapest school that you are accepted to. Heed my advice and you will save yourself a lot of trouble down the road. The money you spend now accrues interest over the lifetime of the loan.

For example, let’s say you buy a $5 footlong from Subway for lunch one day. How much would that sub cost you at 6% interest and making no payments over 20 years? It will cost you $16.60!

Of course the dollar will be inflated by then too, so that offsets the loss somewhat. Also, you have to eat, so you are going to spend money on food and there’s nothing most of us can do about that. My point is that the money you save now will be even more valuable down the road.

What if I already graduated with a mountain of dental school loans?

Fear not! There are some options that you can still take advantage of. Some of the programs and benefits available to you include:

  • National Health Service Corps – Loan Forgiveness Program (NHSC LRP)
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
  • Private Refinancing
  • Loan Consolidation
  • Income Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

How can I avoid mountains of debt entirely?

Graduating from dental school and not owing any money sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? That’s because it is! But hey, believe it or not, it’s not for everyone. Below are some of the options which allow you to attend dental school while paying very little or nothing in tuition.

  • Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) – Army, Navy, Air Force
  • The New GI Bill
  • PhD Dual Degree Programs
  • National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship
  • Indian Health Service Scholarship