Educational debt

There is both good news and not so good news regarding borrowing for dental school, but just remember two important principles:

1. Never borrow more than you really need, and

2. Plan to pay back what you borrow.


  • Approximately one out of five dental school graduates in the Class of 2013 reported either no student loan debt or debt less than $100,000.
  • Average debt for all indebted dental school graduates in the Class of 2013 was $241,097.
  • Average debt for all indebted dental school graduates of public and private dental schools was $209,150 and $283,978, respectively.
  • Over one in four indebted dental school graduates reported debt in excess of $300,000.

Good news

  • Dental school graduates have a great reputation for timely repayment.
  • You can fund your entire COA (Cost of Attendance ) with federal loans (combination of Unsubsidized Federal Stafford and Federal Grad PLUS Loans), negating the need for private loans.
  • You may enter the income stream after graduation faster than other health professions colleagues, which may allow for aggressive repayment.
  • It is easier than ever to track your federal student loans in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
  • You may graduate with multiple federal loans, but they are likely going to be serviced by just one loan servicer.

Not so good news

  • Your entire student loan portfolio may be unsubsidized, with interest accruing from time of disbursement; interest that will eventually be capitalized (added back to the principal).
  • Interest rates on new Stafford and Grad PLUS Loans change each year, and the caps are high.
  • Currently, you cannot refinance these loans at a lower rate through federal programs.
  • Changes may be coming on different repayment plans, such as the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Pay As You Earn (PAYE), as well as forgiveness programs including Public Service Loan Forgiveness.