HPSP scholarship: Say “no” to dental school debt by saying “yes”


Practicing dentists and current dental students know, and we predentals claim to know, just how expensive a dental education is. What does “expensive” really mean though?

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) sought to find that out in 2013 with the ADEA Survey of Dental School Seniors. Out of the 4,134 survey respondents, 30.8% said they will be graduating with $200,000-$299,999 in debt. Even worse, 18.5% said they will have between $300,000-$399,999 in debt, and worst of all, the least fortunate 9.4% will graduate with more than $400,000 in debt.

Let’s look at those numbers in simple, real-world dollars: if you start with $400,000 in debt, a 6% interest rate, and select the 10-year standard repayment plan, you will have to pay $4,440 per month. Including interest over the ten years of repayment, the total amount you will pay is in excess of $532,000. That’s right – walk into a room with nine of your fellow dental or pre-dental students and look around – at least one of you will pay more than half-a-million dollars for the privilege to practice dentistry. These numbers are not inconsequential and those loans don’t just “work themselves out.” That money gets paid. By you.

If depositing a tear-soaked envelope containing close to $4,500 into the mailbox each month gives you the fantods, fear not. There are a number of ways to get your loans repaid or forgiven, in-part or altogether. Many U.S. states have loan forgiveness programs if you agree to serve in areas with incredible dentist needs. Two other tremendous options exist through the Uniformed Services and the National Health Service Corps. Each of them has programs designed to help ease the financial burden of dental school. Take a look below at what the respective proffering of benefits is as well as a few of the strings that are attached. Decide for yourself whether these programs are definitely for you or if you’d at least like to hear more.

If you’d like to hear more, I encourage you to attend the Predental Week Webinar Scholarships 101: Federal programs for aspiring dental students on Tuesday, Feb. 23 from 7-8:30 pm CST.

Uniformed Services (Army, Navy, Air Force)

Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP)

  • They’ll pay for two, three, or four years of dental school (and required fees/expenses)
  • They’ll also (on top of paying for schooling) pay you approximately $25k/year for living expenses
  • You don’t have to go to “boot camp” or “basic training”
  • Most often there is no physical fitness testing or training required while in dental school
  • If you attend a military residency, you’ll get paid over $100k per year during residency
  • Experience the honor of service to your country
  • Commitment: Serve an equivalent number of years as an Active Duty dentist (minimum 3 years)

Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP – Navy only)

  • Get paid about $50k/year to attend dental school (sometimes more, depending on location)
  • Build “Active Duty” years towards retirement/pension while in dental school
  • Free Tri-Care Medical Insurance for you and any dependents (spouses count)
  • Qualify for “Active Duty” military benefit such as VA Home Loans, USAA insurance, etc.
  • If you attend a military residency, get paid over $100k per year during residency
  • Experience the honor of service to your country
  • Commitment: Serve an equivalent number of years as an Active Duty dentist (minimum 3 years)

National Health Service Corps

  • They’ll pay for up to all four years of your dental schooling (and required fees/expenses)
  • Receive a stipend for each year (it was $1,316 for 2015-2016 before federal taxes) to help pay for living expenses – this is in addition to paying for your schooling
  • Enjoy the value you will bring by serving in an area that needs you the most
  • Commitment: Serve an equivalent number of years in an area designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) with extraordinary needs

~ Ryane Staples, member, Predental Advisory Committee 

Don’t forget! Predentals who join ASDA during Predental Week will be eligible for prizes, including an Apple iPad mini, $250 Best Buy gift card and $100 Amazon gift card.


2016 Predental Week is sponsored by:


Ryane Staples

Ryane is a former college athlete who played football and participated in track & field at Colgate, where he had the 5th best all-time javelin throw. Ryane recently decided to leave a successful career in sales and management to pursue dentistry and is currently taking pre-requisites at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. He loves meeting new people and hearing their unique perspectives on life. Ryane is driven by the passion to become a dentist and the only thing that can stop him from achieving his goal is time.

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1 Comment

  1. Ryane Staples says:

    *FYI* – the NHSC stipend of over $1,300 is per month! I wasn’t clear about that – apologies!

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