Financial Aid Advice

10 Questions Incoming Dental Students Should Ask About Financial Aid

Posted by Paul Garrard, M.B.A. on September 23, 2020

As you consider ways to pay for dental school, there are some important questions you should ask that will help ensure you don’t miss anything in terms of getting access to the best financial aid possible. This includes knowing how to borrow responsibly if you have to take out student loans and having access to resources that help prepare you for repaying your loans responsibly after you graduate.

  1. What is the estimated total cost of my dental degree over the entire length of the program, including tuition and fees, living and other program related expenses?

  2. How much income am I potentially giving up by going to dental school instead of working? This is called an “opportunity cost” and should be considered when looking at the total cost of your dental education, because it represents lost income while you’re in dental school.

  3. Are there any outside scholarships (not from the school) that I might be eligible for that might help reduce how much I have to borrow for dental school?

  4. Are there any family members who might be interested in helping me pay for dental school that might also help reduce how much I have to borrow?

  5. Would I be willing to consider a service-commitment scholarship program, such as the Armed Forces or the National Health Service Corps, to help pay for my dental education?

  6. Does my dental school offer any gift assistance in the form of grants and scholarships? If so, what are they based on? (For example, need or merit, or both.) How do I apply for them and when are the deadlines for applying?

  7. Are there any third- or fourth-year dental students at the school that I am planning to attend who I could connect with to get their take on paying for dental school, including any advice about borrowing?  

  8. Once in dental school, do I plan to live like a student or a practicing dentist? In other words, enter dental school understanding that the financial rewards of being a dentist will eventually come, but that during school, I need to set a realistic budget and stick to it.

  9. Do I currently have a budget and am I good at sticking to it?

  10. Have I carefully and thoroughly reviewed all the information on financing a dental education through Money Matters on the ADEA GoDental site? Have I accessed the AAMC/ADEA Dental Loan Organizer and Calculator (DLOC) to help track my borrowing and manage repayment after I graduate?

About Paul Garrard, M.B.A.:

Paul Gerrard

Paul S. Garrard, M.B.A.
Founder and President
PGPresents, LLC
Independent Student Loan Consulting
ADEA Senior Advisor for Student Financial Services

With more than 35 years of experience in higher education and student financial aid, Paul Garrard is one of the most well-known and in-demand educational debt management experts in the nation, especially in the health professions communities. Mr. Garrard currently serves as a consultant for the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) as their Senior Advisor for Student Financial Services.

He has extensive experience in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors of higher education. In 2008, he started his own consulting firm, PGPresents, LLC, designed to help promote responsible borrowing and responsible repayment.

His specialty is helping health professions graduates, including dental school graduates, manage their student loan portfolios by helping them develop repayment strategies that meet their career and financial goals. He also uses this expertise through ADEA to help inform incoming dental students about borrowing responsibly.

He is a nationally known speaker on financing a dental education and is a regular speaker at the ADEA GoDental Recruitment Event held prior to the ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition. 

He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Samford University and an M.B.A. from the University of Georgia. Mr. Garrard works out of his home in Shepherdstown, WV.