So you’ve jumped through the academic hoops of fire, rocked the DAT, and owned that high-pressure interview landing you in a dental school; Congratulations!…but what about the cost? According to the ADEA the average graduating dental student debt is over $200,000 not taking into account any debt from undergrad or living expenses. With the median annual income of dentists with less than 1 year experience around $100,000 it doesn’t take an advanced math degree to see a long road of huge payments awaiting you after graduation. There are many options out there, but if you desire location choices and have a passion for philanthropy, two programs at any of the hundreds of available sites in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) may be for you.
Choose an NHSC approved site. Decide if you want to work half-time or full-time for a minimum of 2 years or as long as 16 years. Based on the level of need at your site and which plan (half-time or full-time) you select, the NHSC will pay back up to about $30,000 per year; all the while you still earn a comfortable living.
Apply ASAP in your dental school career and if accepted the NHSC will pay all of your tuition and fees as well as provide stipends for monthly living and educational expenses for up to 4 years of dental school. When you graduate you choose your site and work 4 years; again earning a comfortable income.
There are many ways to get that monstrous debt under control, but as a first year dental student I was unaware of such a versatile option as the NHSC. I am a current scholarship recipient and look very forward to a satisfying career helping those in need while not stressing over mountains of debt. I encourage anyone interested to check it out!
-Russ Villier 14′ Louisville