• December 8, 2017
Dental School Loan Repayment

Did you know the average amount of debt incurred during dental school is $287,333 and that 39% of dental students have more than $300,000 of debt?

That’s the average debt for dental school graduates in 2017 according to the ADEA Survey of Dental School Seniors. If you factor in the compounding interest
multiplied by the years it will take to pay it all off, the average debt can be as much as half a million dollars!

As for UIC College of Dentistry graduates, the numbers are a bit more favorable as their debt load falls slightly below the national average. According to the latest 2017 numbers from UIC Office of Student Financial Aid, the average debt for DMD and DMD-AS students who borrowed was $257,073 and $255,779 respectively.

These are big numbers to think about. But before you start regretting your life choices, take a deep breath and remember why you’ve invested this much time and money into your chosen career. 

dental school debtIt’s time to move past the cost-benefit analysis and conquer this financial beast head on. At this year’s ADEA Fall Meeting, Paul Garrard, an ADEA student loan consultant, shared with the student attendees some tips empowering us to face our financial burdens. Part of his advice is common sense, when faced with the option to pay aggressively with a five year plan, choose that over a prolonged low payment plan, but not all of us have that luxury. 

Instead of reserving everything, except the bare minimum required for living expenses, to pay off school debt, it might be wise to put some of your income aside for a rainy day or a down payment on a condo, car or your very own dental practice.



Choosing a Loan and Repayment Strategy

When choosing a loan, the key considerations are income,  and when repayment starts. Most direct loans have 6-month window period before repayment starts. Perkins loans have 9-month grace period, while HPSL and LDS have 12-month grace period.  Institutional and private loans may have more customized due dates, so check the terms of these loans.


Dental-Debt-Steps-Infographic-dl2.jpgFor the majority of us with debt and other life expenses, there are a number of payment plan options available to help dental students with debt repayment. To help you navigate through the variety of payment plan options, check out ADEA Go Dental's repayment strategies page for calculators and other resources to help you start working on a repayment  plan that works for you. 

Adopting an aggressive repayment  strategy offers several advantages:

  • There is  no penalty for aggressive repayment
  • Payments are applied to outstanding interest first before principal
  • You can usually switch repayment plans
  • Voluntary and additional payments may be targeted on most expensive loans


For more help in comparing different repayment options,
download this infographic 



Additional Resources

The AAMC/ADEA Dental Loan Organizer and Calculator helps you organize your repayment strategy by keeping all your student loan borrowing in one electronic file. It helps you select the best repayment strategy based on your debt, repayment objectives and career plans.

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) central database for student aid. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of ED programs. NSLDS Student Access provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and grants so that recipients of Title IV Aid can access and inquire about their Title IV loans and/or grant data.

StudentLoans.gov offers a great ‘what-if’ repayment estimator to further help in decision making.


Dental school leaves most students with a lot of debt, so it pays to research the costs and develop a repayment strategy that works best for you.  With the right plan in place, you can ease the burden and stress of repaying student debt after graduation.


Article written by:


Karen Homsi

Karen Homsi
DMD Candidate, Class of 2019
President, ADEA Student Chapter at UIC COD


accent-bar-ltblue150.jpgTaylor Pham Taylor Pham
DMD Candidate, Class of 2019
Treasurer, ADEA Student Chapter at UIC COD


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