Are you starting to worry about how you're going to pay for your dental school education? One of the biggest concerns that we hear consistently from dental students is getting out from under their debt burden when they finish school.
Many people already have previous schooling debt from their undergraduate programs and are looking for recommendations for reducing the burden of dental student loan debt.
The good news is that there are a few simple tips that can make a big difference for virtually every student.
Compare costs. Above all other recommendations for reducing the burden of dental student loan debt, the best method for ensuring less debt is paying less upfront. For example, in-state tuition is cheaper than out-of-state tuition and both of these numbers can vary significantly between schools. Getting into an in-state program or one with substantially lower tuition than comparable programs can mean the difference of thousands of dollars.
Try to get government loans. Not only are government loans less expensive, but the government is also vastly more flexible when it comes to working with those who are experiencing financial difficulties after the fact. In addition, consolidating government loans can be much more helpful (i.e. result in more discounted rates) than consolidating private loans.
Consolidate student loans. Do you have multiple loans? You may be able to group them together and make one payment at a lower rate. Keep in mind that you can consolidate private or government loans, but you cannot mix the two. Take the time to crunch the numbers before you agree to consolidation to ensure that it will save you money in the long run.
Prepay loans whenever possible. Most students are not able to pay down their loans while they're still in school, but they may have the means to pay the interest in order to prevent it from adding to an already high loan balance. Additionally, if you have higher interest loans (i.e. credit card debt, car payments) these loans should take priority and be paid off first. However, if paying off your dental school debt early is an option, you should take advantage of it. Pay off your highest interest loan first, and make sure to apply the money toward the principal, not the interest. Paying down the principal saves you money over the loan's lifetime.1
Make every payment on time. Late charges add to an already big bill and they are entirely avoidable. Some people find it beneficial to enroll in an automatic payment program so they never forget to make a payment.
- Qualify for loan forgiveness. The government will forgive debts after 10 years for borrowers that make their career in the public sector. (http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service). The government is also aggressively promoting other relief programs including the Pay As You Earn program (http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand/plans/pay-as-you-earn) which adjusts repayment to affordable levels while extending the loan term to accommodate that. Either way, the key is to get your arms around your post-graduation obligations before you leave school so that you can apply for these programs ahead of time. Questions? Let us know we’d love to help!