Dental School is very expensive to attend. However, you shouldn't let the cost defer you from your dream of becoming a dental professional. It is true that some schools may cost well over $300,000 over four years! It is scary figure, but, it is a worthwhile investment, as the average dental professional makes well over $100,000 per annum. So how exactly can one go about paying all that money? There are several ways:
1. Scholarships - There are very few scholarships out there. However, it is important to search for scholarships to help to defer the cost of dental school. You may check the ADA website for some scholarships. Also, check your designated schools for scholarship listings.
i. Health Professions Scholarship Program - These are scholarships offered through the Navy, Army and Air Force where full tuition coverage plus a monthly stipend is awarded, in addition to summer military training. In return, you owe the respective branch 1 year for each year the scholarship was granted. Example: If you got the scholarship for the whole four years of dental school, then you owe the respective branch four years of service.
ii. National Health Service Corps - This organization offers scholarships for those who are eligible. They offer up to the full cost of attendance plus a monthly stipend. In return the awardee is required to serve an underprivileged neighborhood/area (example: federal prison) 1 year for each year the scholarship is awarded.
2. Federal Student Aid - All dental students will be considered for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Free Applications are usually given to students from their designated schools. The FAFsa information is used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). From this, the Cost of Attendance (COA) will be subtracted to determine financial need.
i. Federal Stafford loans: Students are automatically considered for Stafford loans as a result of filing FAFSA. There are two types of Stafford loans, Subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized means the federal government pays the interest on the loan until you graduate, and for a grace period of several months after graduation. Unsubsidized means that you are responsible for paying the interests immediately upon taking out the loan; however, you may opt to defer payment of the interest until after you graduate, in which case the interest is simply added to your principal. The interest on these loans are low, currently fixed at 6.80%.
ii. Health Professions Student Loan (HPSL) - The HPSL is another option available to dental students. It has a fixed interest rate of 5% and the interests are subsidized. repayment of this loan begins 12 months after graduation with a maximum of 10 years to repay. The award is based on parental income.
iii. The Perkins Loan - This loan is need-based and has a fixed interest rate of 5%. Interests are subsidizedand repayment usually begins 9 months after graduation.
iv. Graduate PLUS loan - This loan does not have a limit on how much one may borrow - you may borrow uo to the full cost of attendance, Interest rates are 7.90%
v. Other Loans - The Educational Resource Institute (TERI)is a non profit group that provides up to $225,000 in loans to dental school students. There are some banks, including Citibank, who offer similar loans. Citibank will loan a dental student up to $220,000 for school itself, and up to $12,000 additional toward a residency after graduation. Many state governments, too, offer dental school student loans. Check with your state Department of Education or the dental school.
4. Loan Forgiveness - There are several programs that offer forgiveness of your loans. Some, like the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC-LRP) pay health care professionals funds in additional to salary in exchange for work in designated need areas.
So, don't let the cost of attending dental school hold you back from pursuing your dream and/or goal of becoming a dental professional. There are many funding options that one can take advantage of.
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