Is Dental School Worth Student Debt?


Dental school can be a stepping stone to a lucrative career, but the cost is high. According to American Association for Dental Education (ADEA), the average dental school debt for the class of 2020 was $ 304,824, making it one of the most expensive degrees you can get.

Fortunately, dentists also have a high cap when it comes to salaries. Before you decide to apply for dental school, however, consider all the costs and whether the return on investment worth it.

What is the average debt of dental schools?

So how much does it cost to become a dentist? Based on data compiled by ADEA, the average dental school debt for recent graduates is $ 304,824. This is much higher than the average graduate student debt, which pins at $ 91,148 for federal borrowers.

Of course, it is possible to graduate with less than average debt, but the high costs of dental school are hard to avoid. The American Dental Association (ADA) lists the average cost of dental school in the first year, including tuition and fees, of $ 55,395 for residents and $ 72,219 for non-residents during the school year 2019-2020.

To keep costs low, consider a public dental school instead of a private college. The ADA report found that the average cost of dental schools in public programs is $ 41,711 for the first year, compared to $ 75,161 for private first-year dental programs. Take the time to research your options to find the school that will give you the most bang for your buck. You can also search for opportunities to receive scholarships and grants to help you succeed in your education.

What Are the Average Interest Rates on Dental School Loans?

The average interest rate on dental school loans depends on the type of student loan you choose. With federal student loans, for example, the rates are standardized, which means you know exactly what rate you are getting before you apply. Private loans, on the other hand, can carry a wide range of interest rates depending on the lender and your credit situation.

Federal student loan interest rates

While federal student loan interest rates are standardized, they are updated once a year based on broader economic trends. That being said, the rate you will receive when you take out your personal loan will be the rate you will pay throughout the repayment of that loan. Here is a history of rates by loan program.

School year Direct loans for undergraduates Direct loans for graduate students and professionals Direct PLUS loans for parents, graduate students and professionals
2021-22 3.73% 5.28% 6.28%
2020-21 2.75% 4.3% 5.3%
2019-20 4.53% 6.08% 7.08%
2018-19 5.05% 6.6% 7.6%
2017-18 4.45% 6% 7%
2016-17 3.76% 5.31% 6.31%
2015-16 4.29% 5.84% 6.84%

Interest rates on private student loans

In most cases, it’s best to stick with federal student loans because they give you the option to sue. income-based repayment plans, abstention periods and forgiveness options. But you may have reached the limit on how much you can borrow from the government, or your credit situation may be good enough to get better terms from a private lender.

In this case, your interest rates depend on the lender and your credit situation. Since September 2021, private student loan interest rates ranging from about 1 percent to just under 13 percent.

Private student loans can also be matched with fixed or variable interest rates. Variable rates usually start lower, which makes them more attractive. But over time this rate may increase which may cost you more money. The fixed rates will stay the same for the duration of your loan, making it the less risky choice.

Interest capitalization

Whether you choose federal or private student loans, most of them earn interest while you’re in school. The only exception to this rule is direct subsidized loans, which are available to undergraduates with financial need.

Once you have completed your education and your grace period is over, your lender capitalize interest into your account, adding it to the balance and increasing the amount you owe – as well as the amount that your future interest payments will be based on.

Loss of income during dental studies

When deciding if dental school is right for you, consider any income you might be missing out on. While you are in school, you are missing out on an income that you could earn if you weren’t in school, which could influence whether dental school is worth it for you.

Becoming a dentist can eventually come with a high salary, but make sure you can handle the loss of income that will occur while you are in school. Think about the debt you will accumulate combined with the amount of income you will lose and determine if these factors are worth the high dental salary in the end.

How Long Does It Take To Pay Off Dental School Loans?

The time it takes you to pay off your dental student debt depends on a number of factors. Private student loans allow you to choose your repayment term in advance, with options typically ranging from five to 20 years. If you have private student loans and can’t afford the monthly payments based on your current repayment schedule, refinance your loans is the only way to get a longer duration.

With federal student loans, the standard repayment plan is 10 years. However, with such high average dental school debt, it can be extremely difficult to keep up with payments with this repayment schedule. Fortunately, the federal student loan program offers options that last up to 30 years.

Repayment plan Repayment period
Consolidation loan Up to 30 years
Expanded 25 years
Pay as you earn 20 years
Review compensation as you earn Up to 25 years
Income Based Up to 25 years
Income-Quota 25 years

With income-based repayment plans, such as pay as you earn, pay as you go revised, pay as you go based on income, and pay as you go on income, your monthly payment will be limited to a percentage of your income. discretionary income. If you have a balance remaining at the end of your repayment period, it will be returned to you.

What is the average salary of a dentist?

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a dentist is $ 180,830. However, this is not what you can expect from the start. The New York State Department of Labor found that the starting salary for a dentist is closer to $ 100,000.

This will make it harder at the start of your career to keep up with your student loan payments without a longer repayment term or an income-based repayment plan. But over time, your salary will increase with your experience.

How can I reduce my dental school debt?

Dentists have many opportunities to pay off their dental education debts after graduation. It is even possible to get help from outside sources.

Student loan forgiveness

If you have federal student loans, you may be eligible for the Public service loan remission program. The program will pay off your debt after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments on an income-based repayment plan while working full-time for qualifying government or non-profit organizations.

Student loan repayment assistance

Although it is not considered a rebate, since it does not come from the Department of Education, student loan repayment assistance is available from some government agencies, including the Armed Forces.

ADEA maintains a list of student loan repayment programs for dentists on its website, organized by the state and the federal agency.

Student loan refinancing

You generally must have federal student loans to be eligible for repayment or forgiveness assistance. But if you are not eligible for these programs for other reasons, or if you have taken out private student loans, you may want to consider refinancing your student loans instead.

Refinancing a student loan involves replacing one or more existing student loans with a new one through a private lender. Depending on your finances and your credit, as well as the rates on your current debt, student loan refinance rate may be less than what you are currently paying, which may save you money.

You can also use refinancing to get a longer repayment term, which can make your monthly payment more affordable.

Is dental school worth it?

The decision to become a dentist is a very personal one, but it is important to consider all the pros and cons of going through dental school to get there. One of the most important factors to consider is your current and future financial situation.

When looking for the cost of attending dental school, graduate loan rate and your projected salary, you’ll know better if the ROI is high enough to be worth it for you.

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