Practice or residency

Most student loans come due about six months after graduation, so be sure to read the sections below whether you plan on going into residency or directly into practice after dental school.

Dental school graduates entering practice immediately after graduation (or shortly thereafter) can select from a number of repayment options that should be available on their federal loans. Information from the annual ADEA Survey of Dental School Seniors indicates that many dental school graduates are interested in aggressive repayment. While there is no hard data to support this, there is anecdotal evidence that more than a few dental school graduates eventually adopt an aggressive repayment strategy and pay off their student loans in less than 10 years. Use the AAMC/ADEA Dental Loan Organizer and Calculator (DLOC) to estimate repayment if you’re moving directly into practice following dental school. DLOC allows you to customize your repayment strategy based on your plans following graduation, and includes both the time-driven and income-driven repayment plans, plus estimates of loan forgiveness.


Dental school graduates entering a school-based advanced dental education residency program should be able to postpone payments on their federal loans with an “In-School Deferment.” This assumes their programs show them enrolled at least half time and they don’t use their grace period. Subsidized loans should remain interest free during this time, but unsubsidized loans will continue to accrue interest. You may have to take out more loans to help pay for your school-based program. Speak with your financial aid officer if you have questions.

Dental school graduates entering hospital-based advanced dental education residency programs can either select a repayment plan when their loans come due or request postponement through what will likely be a “Mandatory Internship Residency Forbearance." Interest accrues on all loans during forbearance. These graduates may use income-driven repayment plans to help afford payments when their income (stipend) is low compared with their debt.

Use the AAMC/ADEA DLOC to estimate repayment under either residency option (school-based or hospital-based)for repayment and forgiveness estimates.