Student Dental Loan Debt, The Long-Term Ramifications

When you look back at previous generations of dentists, you usually find many stories of dentists paying their way through dental school.  They would work summer jobs and maybe part-time jobs during the school year and are able to start a practice right out of dental school.  Those days are long gone.  I don’t think it is even possible to work a job and go to dental school, at least not as a D2.

The average dental student comes out of school with at least $250,000, most of the time a lot more!  This type of debt, delays the purchasing of dental practices and cripples financial freedom from the get go. 

If you are in dental school, you have time to plan, but don’t waste it.  Those 4 years of dental school although drag by, they do go fast.  Be mindful of what you are spending, and try not to dip into any extra loans (Grad Plus Loans).  It is easy to fall into the common trap of just adding it to the pile.  If you think about it, If it takes you 10 years to pay off your student loans, and for every $1,000 extra you take out it equates to roughly $600 of extra interest over those 10 years.  That makes that extra spring-break trip less appealing.

Be mindful of what you are spending on rent, going out to eat, and the type of car you drive.  It is also helpful to have a budget to make sure you know where your money is going.  One decision my wife and I made when she was in dental school was to choose a location that is reasonable to rent.  Some of her friends were renting downtown for $1200 a month.  We found a place that was about a 20 minute drive to IU School of Dentistry for roughly $700 a month.  Over 4 years that is about $20,000.  The little decisions you are making can have a huge impact over your dental school career.

If you are a newly minted dentist, first-off CONGRATULATIONS.  Secondly, now comes the dreaded student loan payments 6 months after the fact.  The student loan landscape is pretty nuanced, and can be very discerning.  Which plan do I choose?  What is Paye/Repaye? Do I even consider PSLF?  If you are trying to open a practice in 1-4 years after dental school it becomes more imperative you pick the right plan to maximize forgiveness savings and interest savings depending on the strategy you choose.  It all comes down to cash-flow.

Being an associate of a practice is great, whether it is corporate or private practice.  However, the cost of delaying ownership for multiple years can really add up.  You are potentially leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table.  Add this to an extra size student loan balance and it can be depressing.

The good/bad news, you are not alone.  Many individuals fall into this trap of over-spending in dental school.  Very few are good at keeping a close eye of their expenses, I mean you are under a lot of stress, who has time for finances.  The dentists that take the time to think about their future plans after dental school not only have a jump on all their classmates, but are better prepared for life after dental school.

If you have specific questions about your student loans or future plans of wanting to own your own dental practice, let’s jump on a quick 15 minute phone call.  Feel free to schedule a time here.


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