Posted by Ravya Taghavi on Oct 3, 2023 10:56:00 AM
Most students are familiar with the financial challenges of being in school — especially dental school, which can be pricey. Set aside the fact that tuition is high, there’s so much more that goes into the cost of attending dental school. You’ll need books, supplies, equipment, transportation to go back and forth, and of course, you’ll need a place to live.
If you aren’t among the lucky few who can afford these expenses out of pocket, you may be wondering how to pay for everything. Perhaps you qualified and obtained a student loan. If that’s true for you, then the question is: do my student loans (and/or scholarships) cover everything? And by everything, you probably want to know if this includes housing.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how you may pay for your dental school tuition and associated expenses, and how best to manage student debt.
Can Student Loans Be Used for Housing?
The great news, in short, is yes! Dental student loans can cover the cost of housing, as well as fees, utilities, and supplies. Hopefully knowing this, you can take a moment and breathe a sigh of relief because school will leave you with little time to generate any income. For this reason, your loans will be a vital resource for funding your living expenses.
If you’re renting, you will likely need to show proof of your loans or have a co-signer on your lease to secure housing. Although it’s rare, you may even be considering buying a property, like a house or condo. In that case, you’ll likely need to disclose the details of your dental school loan. Of course, like any other home buyer, you would need a down payment and mortgage approval. Make sure to speak with a financial advisor to discuss interest rates, mortgage payments, and loan repayment options.
Is Dental School Worth It?
Dental school is incredibly expensive. And while it’s easy to think you can take out loans today, there will come a day when you’ll be expected to repay those funds. In most cases, debt is a reality of going to dental school. You can, however, work to limit the debt you take on.
The average dental school debt a student takes on is $293,900. That’s a significant investment!
Major components of your average expenses will be:
- The program tuition and fees (varies by university)
- Whether you are a resident or non-resident
- Living expenses
- Types of loans you secure and your repayment options
Given that most dentists also look forward to financially lucrative careers, some may argue that this is simply the price of entry. Even so, there’s no need to take on more debt than necessary. So what can you do?
How to Minimize Student Debt
Only Borrow What You Need
While it may sound old-fashioned, the tried-and-true method works: budget and only borrow what you need. It’s sensible, and it will help keep you out of trouble. If you want to set yourself up for future financial success the most important thing you can do is to live within your means.
That means cutting back on expenses, budgeting for housing, travel, and discretionary spending. Consider living with roommates (or family, if you can) to minimize housing costs. Online communities for your school on social media platforms like Facebook are a great way to find other students in your dental class looking for roommates.
Understand Your Loan Repayment Options
Remember, a dollar you borrow is a dollar that needs to be repaid. For this reason, it’s important to understand exactly what repayment options are available to you. Federal student loans typically have more payment plan flexibility and may not begin to accrue interest until you have graduated.
Look For Other Funding Sources
Loans aren’t the only way to fund your education. Make sure to look into scholarships and other forms of financial assistance. Some dental schools have scholarships available that can help cover tuition costs, course books, and your living expenses during the program. There may also be rental assistance programs in your area that can help cover your cost of living if you are renting.
Speak With a Financial Advisor
You may think that financial planning is important only for those who are in practice and “have money to invest.” In reality, you may wish to meet with a financial professional with experience in the dental market as you approach graduation or shortly thereafter in order to develop an overall strategy.
Student debt management may be more effective when its part of a comprehensive financial plan. That’s why it’s important to find someone who can take a holistic approach to your plan and who has experience working with dental professionals.
Manage Your Dental School Debt and Plan For Your Future
Aside from tuition, housing and living expenses will be your biggest financial obligation as you pursue your training in dentistry. You’d be well advised to manage your expenses during this time, which includes being smart about both your borrowing and your spending.
For more information on how to ace dental school — financially speaking — make sure to download our free Post-Dental School Survival Guide!
About Treloar & Heisel
Treloar & Heisel, an EPIC Company, offers dental and medical professionals a comprehensive suite of financial products and services ranging from business and personal insurance to wealth management. We are proud to assist thousands of clients from residency to practice and through retirement. Our experienced teams deliver custom-tailored advice through an active local presence, while our strong national network ensures that clients experience the same high level of service throughout the country.