financial planning

When applying to dental school, it is paramount to have a keen sense of the overall cost, financial options and allowances, as well as how the applicant will pay for the cost. This section will cover the costs involved with applying to dental school  as well as taking the DAT, tips to save money, and financial resources available to those who need it.


Cost of the DAT:


Once you register for the DAT through the ADA you will have 6 months to schedule and then take the test. The current fee is a non-refundable $460, and includes sending a score report to all the schools listed on your DAT application (as many schools as you would like) as well as to your advisor. You may update the schools leading up to the test, but afterwards there is a $34 fee per school.


Financial Assistance:


Fee waivers are extremely limited, and come on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at the beginning of the calendar year. If you believe you will need a fee waiver, it is recommended that you apply for it as close to the beginning of the year as possible.


The waiver covers 50% of the cost of the DAT, but not additional charges, and only applies for the first time the test is taken. A student must be able to prove that they receive financial aid from their college/university in order to qualify.


Detailed instructions on how to submit and fill out the waiver can be found here


Cost of Applications:


When applying to dental school, the fees can be quite costly, so it is important to have a working idea of how much money you will need to apply, beginning by determining the number of schools you want to apply to.


To send your first application, the fee is $245, and every school afterwards has a fee of $102. Additionally, the majority of schools have supplemental applications, and supplemental fees as well in order for the individual application to be considered complete. These fees usually range in price from $30-$90. It is generally recommended to apply to as many schools as you can afford, and most applicants apply to 5-10; however, do not feel discouraged if you can only apply to 1-2 schools, just make sure to research them thoroughly!


Financial Assistance:


If you have extreme financial need, there is a fee assistance program available. Generally, the application for the fee assistance opens a few weeks before the ADEA AADSAS application portal opens, allowing students to fill it out before beginning work on their application.


Detailed directions can be found here


Cost of Dental School:


Most dental students take out student loans when attending dental school, so it is especially important to be aware, when applying, how much debt you are going to accumulate if you attend that school. More often than not, in state is significantly cheaper, and some states without dental schools will have in state partnerships with neighboring states. The average dental student graduates with more than $260,000 in debt so it is vital to keep in mind the cost of the school while applying. Common ways of paying for dental school are listed below, and it is possible to use multiple methods of paying for school. These include:

  • Federal Loans

    • Subsidized Stafford and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

      • Under the Direct Unsubsidized Loan program, the most one can borrow is a total of $138,500

      • A next possible option is to use GradPLUS loans, which do not have a limit. They do have a higher interest rate however, 7.6% as of 2018

  • Military Scholarship - HPSP

    • While a certain length of military commitment is required once you graduate, military scholarships often pay for dental school in full, and offer a monthly living stipend as well

    • Each branch of the military (Air Force, Army, Navy)  has their own scholarship application

  • College specific scholarships

    • Dental schools often offer various (but usually limited) scholarships ranging from overall merit, commitment to working in the state, commitment to working in rural areas, STEM, research, and others

    • Each school will have its own award criteria, so researching these before choosing to attend a school is important

  • Work Study

    • When attending dental school, the expectation is usually that the student will not work outside of school, due to the rigorous nature of dental school. However, some schools may offer work study programs related to research, assistance, or other areas

  • Veterans Benefits

    • If you are a veteran, or the spouse or dependent of a disabled or deceased veteran, you may be entitled to additional fee assistance depending on state residency and the individual schools

      • If these conditions apply to you, it is important to investigate the additional tuition assistance some schools offer

  • Private Loans

    • You may also choose to take out a loan through a bank or a credit union for tuition or living expenses

    • Please be advised that the interest rate on some of these loans may be more than the Subsidized and Unsubsidized loan, so make sure you ask questions if you can

  • Out of Pocket

    • For those not coming to dental school directly out of college, or with other means of generosity, it may be possible to pay for dental school out of pocket

    • If one has the means, this is certainly a great way to pay for school, as it avoids the interest accrued from loans


Financial Planning Tips:


  • Begin putting aside money for taking the DAT, starting your freshman year if possible; holding a part-time job can often help one’s application as well

  • If absolutely necessary, accept additional financial aid at the start of the academic year to cover the costs of the DAT and/or applying

  • Be specific and research the schools you want to apply to

  • If possible, set a monthly savings goal

  • Save your change anytime you pay in cash, it can add up quicker than you may realize

  • Save your tax refund each year if possible

  • Plan your meals and buy only what is necessary

  • Eat in more often

  • Buy a water filtration dispenser instead of water bottles, it helps the environment too