1. Find money you don’t need to pay back
You can use your savings to help pay for dental school. Creating a budget can give you a sense of how much of your savings you want to contribute. A budget can show you what your monthly expenses are and how much money to put in an emergency fund. Talk to a financial advisor if you have any questions.
Dental school scholarships and grants
Some dental schools may offer scholarships, grants, or assistantships to their students. Grants are usually need-based while scholarships can be need-based or merit-based. Both types of aid don’t need to be paid back.
Assistantships are usually awarded on merit. These positions may offer tuition remission in exchange for 10 – 15 hours of work on-campus each week. Your school could offer teaching assistantships (TAs), research assistantships (RAs), or both. Check the websites of the schools you’re applying to and talk to their financial aid offices to find out more.
Some dental associations and for-profit companies offer scholarships, fellowships, and grants to dental students and/or are a resource to find funding opportunities. Here are some to consider:
You can search more scholarships using our free Scholarship Search tool. You can also reach out directly to the organizations for more information. Ask school department heads for recommendations on which scholarships, awards, or grants may be best for you.
Depending on your area of study, you could qualify for a program that covers your dental school tuition, books, and more in return for a set number of years of service for that organization.
- National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship: This Department of Health program will cover the cost of tuition, books, and living expenses for dental students for the course of their study. In exchange, you must work for one to two years in an approved high-need area, either in a city or rural town.footnote 5 In return for scholarship awards, scholars commit to providing primary care health services in underserved communities. The program provides support to students who seek financial assistance to complete primary care health professions education. The NHSC SP pays for tuition and various other reasonable education-related expenses and also provides a monthly stipend to assist with living expenses in exchange for a minimum of two (2) years of full-time service.
- Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP): This program is funded by the military—Army, Navy, and Air Force—for a health professions students, including dental students. You can get all your tuition and fees covered, plus a living stipend.footnote 6
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): If you work at a nonprofit, teaching hospital, or government organization after you complete your degree, you may be eligible for this loan forgiveness program. This program only applies to any federal loans you took out, not private loans. Usually you must have already made 120 consecutive payments toward your federal loans to qualify.footnote 7
Be sure to visit each program’s website to get the details on how you can apply and what that could mean for you.