As the costs of
dental school continue to increase, so too does the average dental student loan
indebtedness. Remember, tuition and fees are parts of your cost of attendance
(COA) over which you have no control, so it’s important to review your living
costs to help reduce your overall cost and to help reduce borrowing.
Do You Have a Budget?
sticking to a set monthly budget is the first place to start in controlling
your costs. Need a place to start? Check with your school’s Financial Aid
Office. They will have a guideline of how much you should be spending on rent,
food and miscellaneous living costs (laundry, toiletries, transportation, etc.).
Sticking at or below these guidelines will help keep your borrowing down.
Do You Have a Roomie? Should You Get One?
apartment or house is a great way to reduce living costs. Not only are you
reducing rent, but you also are able split utilities and other costs. You and
your roommate(s) may even be dietary compatible and can pool together for
Do You Have a Tracking System?
OK, you have the
cost of rent and food settled, but you still don’t know why you’re going over
your monthly ideal budget? Time to track those expenses. For at least a
one-month period, keep your receipts from all your purchases. That means all
receipts, even for that morning cup of coffee. You can use pencil and paper to
tally them all, create your own spreadsheet or even use one of many apps
created just for this purpose. (NerdWallet.com is a great free online resource
that rates budget apps for cost and efficiency.)
many cups of coffee do
you drink? And don’t forget trips to the barber or salon! Once you have a good
idea of where your money is going, you can take steps to set priorities and cut
out excess spending.
About That Cup of Coffee…
you have your priorities identified, there’s still room to whittle down costs.
Remember, every time you purchase something with loan money, it has an interest
cost attached. That $3 coffee from your local barista each morning of the week
starts to add up:
$3 per day x 5 school days = $15 per week or $780 per year
$780 per year x 4 years = $3,120 principal cost for all four years of
If you borrowed that with a loan at 6.8% interest, your total payback
cost would be $5,078. Possible solution? Brew that cup of coffee at home.
Plan for a Splurge
Don’t forget to allow yourself a little fun here or there! Maybe hit
that barista on the weekend for a special latte and leave a few dollars for a
movie or your favorite streaming service. It’s easier to control costs in other
areas if you know you’ve got one or two little splurges coming your way that
you have planned for.
All these tips will help you follow that old but sound bit of advice
that has helped thousands of students over the years prepare for a sound
economic future: Live like a student now and you’ll be better able to live like
a professional when you complete your education and training.
Products mentioned within this article are not sponsored by or
affiliated with the American Dental Education Association.
Anthony R. Glad :
Anthony R. Glad
Associate Director of Student Financial Aid & Planning
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons College of Dental Medicine
Anthony R. Glad has over 30 years of experience working in financial aid for institutions as diverse as Georgetown Medical School, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the International Education Finance Corporation. He has been at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine for the last five years. Mr. Glad graduated from Duke University with a B.A in History.