Calculating the Cost of Attending Dental School

Recently, there was a post on the Dental Nachos Facebook Group about what schools a young pre-dental student should apply to. You might have seen it. In my opinion, any answer besides the cheapest school with a cap (I put the cap around 300k), is absurd advice to give to a student you know little about, and it perpetuates the problem. 

I’m a general dentist who graduated in 2015 and I talk about the cost of our education quite a bit because it concerns me. Some of the students I talk to have crazy debt loads and no real strategy other than IDR to pay it back. The amount of money you have to make early in your career to handle a student loan of 500k at 7.6% is way above average, and to be honest, new dentists don’t have the skills to be that productive when they’re in-network.

One thing that I like to highlight is how much it actually costs to go to dental school, because more seasoned dentists (and pre-dental students) don’t seem to understand how quickly these costs can get out of control. Here’s a video that outlines how to calculate the cost of attendance for just the FIRST year of dental school at one of the private schools in the US.

Summary: by the end of the first year, the cost of the first semester was more than $86,000. The cost of the first year was more than $174,000. That’s $40,000 more than the estimate provided by the school. Students attending this university should expect to graduate with more than 500k in loans with an average interest rate of 7+%.

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