Facts About Dental School Debt

In 2017, the average first-year cost of public dental school programs was $35,917


The cost of private dental school programs was $67,399.(1) 


Yet, the average student graduates with $287,000.

Hidden Costs of Dental School


Living expenses - $25,000 - $35,000/year depending on where your school is located.  

4-5% increase of tuition costs added each year


For example:  If your school's tuition was $65k/year with a 4% interest increase each year you would end up paying $73K in tuition for your last year of school, even though the estimate for the last year says $65k. Your tuition will cost $276K instead of the expected $260K, and that's even before interest accrues each year while in school.   Someone in this position will graduate with around $326,000 for just the tuition and interest on their tuition. Add living expense and interest on that and you are easily above $400k!  What happened to our school costing 260k like we thought (65k x 4 years)

Here are some astounding numbers on the current state of dental school debt:

Average educational debt for all indebted dental school graduates in the Class of 2017 was $287,331.(3)
Approximately one out of five dental school graduates in the Class of 2017 reported either no student loan debt or debt less than $100,000.(2)  Yeah, I don't have rich parents either!  Unfortunately, for us this 1/5 skews down the average debt after school, which means normal Joe's like you or I graduate with much higher debt than the average.  I think if you factor out this 1/5 who have no debt, the average debt of dental students would be closer to $350K.

Average educational debt for all indebted dental school graduates in the Class of 2017 for public and private dental schools was $239,895 and $341,190, respectively.(2)  (Again, this averages in those students who graduate debt free so actually higher for most people)

I paid back $20K of my loans over the first two years and saved interest on that amount and still graduated with $429K in debt.  Many of my classmates graduated with over $450K in debt!  

The class graduating after me is looking at $480K of debt

I calculated the 4% increase each year and found that incoming D1's at my school will be looking at close to 540k at the end of their 4 years!  Crazy what a 4% increase can do over a few years! 

1 Source: 2016-17 Survey of Dental Education – Report 2: Tuition, Admission and Attrition (Tables in Excel). 
2 http://www.adea.org/GoDental/Money_Matters/Educational_Debt.aspx
3 https://www.asdanet.org/index/get-involved/advocate/issues-and-legislative-priorities/Dental-Student-Debt


About Me

I am a recent graduate hoping to share with other young dentists what I have learned during my transition from dental school into the real wold of dentistry.  I am married and have two boys.  I graduated in 2017 as a part of the inaugural class of ATSU-MOSDOH.  I am currently practicing as a general dentist in Oklahoma.


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