Dr. Charlie Cage Dental Blog

How to Pay for Dental School

How to pay for dental school

After the financial commitment of a 4 year education to attain a bachelor’s degree can be hefty. A tough pill to swallow since it is only a prerequisite for dental school.  It is understood that the idea of figuring out how to pay for dental school can be daunting.

Since it was some time since I graduated from dental school, I was curious. I wanted to find out how the cost of dental school has changed over the years. After doing some perusing, I’ve found out that it has increased!

The annual cost does have a wide range. It is mostly based on the institution’s affiliation (state vs private or resident vs non-resident).

The American Dental Association (ADA) showed a range from $12,000 to $117,000. There are outliers which means there are schools that have a higher price tag attached!

Always ask about additional costs!

There are certain things to look for when inquiring about this financial investment. For each school, be sure to assess the additional costs (rent, food, fees, equipment, parking, etc).

Doing research on the financial investment associated with a particular school is critical. Be sure to inquire about additional costs (rent, food, fees, equipment, parking, etc).

But there’s more! Factors that are commonly missed can significantly increase the financial burden.

  • Annual increase in tuition and fees
  • Inflation
  • Accruing interest on loans
Why is the cost of dental school a concern?

There is a thought process that justifies the high cost of dental school is the high expected income for dentists. Is this true?

The average income of a new dentist is between $120,000-$140,000.

After dental school, there are some expenses attached to ‘growing up’. The purchase of a new home, starting a family, starting a practice, and getting that pampering session or trip that you promised yourself once you become a dentist. Additional loan payments will make things financially challenging.

how to pay for dental school
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Options to pay for dental school:
  • Student loans (the dreaded option due to interest and high payments)
  • Scholarships and grants AKA free money (from dental schools or major companies who invest in education such as ASDA, ADEA, etc.)
  • Service programs. This differs from scholarships because it does require payment. It differs from a loan because the payback is not financial but time.
  • Loan forgiveness (total forgiveness such as public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) or additional aid from a corporate or private employer.
Types of service programs:

Besides scholarships, this is a great way to pay for dental school without loans or to repay them.


  • Public health services (work in an area in need of dentists)
  • Military: employed as a dentist for a contracted amount of time
These are great ways to get additional experience and mentorships, and a very cost effective way to pay for dental school.

Is dental school worth the debt?

I wish I could answer this question for you! To tell you to spend hundreds of thousands, in addition to the stress attached with school and the occupation. Only you can determine if you will be happy with this decision for the rest of your life!

All I can say is, that I would do this all over again if I had to! Despite practicing for over ten years now, I am excited to learn more about this profession. The process of designing and bringing to life a smile that can transform a person’s life brings me joy. I absolutely love my job and it was definitely worth the investment!

I only hope that whatever you choose, you can find as much if not more joy in your career as I feel with dentistry!

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