Financing options

Like many of your fellow students, you may need financial aid to help pay for school, and that likely means taking out student loans. 

However, responsible borrowing starts with looking at all of your financial aid options first.

Grants and scholarships
Grants and scholarships are your best financing options, as they never have to be repaid. Grants and scholarships directly from the school may be based on need or merit, or a combination of these. Some scholarships are tied to a service commitment (for example, the National Health Service Corps [NHSC] and the armed forces). Check with the Financial Aid Office (FAO) at your institution about availability and application deadlines. 

In general, there are three categories of grants and scholarships to consider:

  • Institutional Grants and Scholarships
    Based on need and/or merit. Check with your school’s FAO about applications and deadlines.
  • Outside Scholarships
    • Awarded by organizations other than the school.
    • You must apply for these independently.
    • Use free search engines such as or organizations such as ADEA.
    • Report receipt of these scholarships to your FAO.
            • Service Commitment Scholarships
              • Provide financial support while you are in school in exchange for your service after graduation
              • These are similar to loan repayment programs except that you make the commitment earlier and receive the funds earlier. 
              • The armed forces, NHSC and Indian Health Service offer programs

            Loans must be repaid. The majority of dental students use student loans, most frequently Unsubsidized Federal Stafford and Federal Grad PLUS Loans, to help them pay for dental school. Dental school graduates are known for responsible repayment. Make sure you understand the different types of loans and the benefits and downsides of each before seeking them out.

            Work-Study Programs
            While working may be very challenging during dental school, if you want to work ask your FAO about work-study programs. 

            Fellowships and Traineeships

            Talk with your FAO regarding availability of these funds and application deadlines.

            Education Tax Breaks

            These tend to be “back end” benefits for some students and graduates who file a tax return. Consult with a professional tax advisor or other qualified financial advisor for assistance.