I first did some research for a family member in 2015 and posted this info, but this method still works today, so it’s worth sharing again. Can you become a dentist without student loan debt? Absolutely!
I’ve found 3 paths through dental school with free tuition. All three require a big commitment and obviously are competitive to get INto as well as getting OUT of. All three are zero out of pocket which means these are not reimbursement programs and they are not student loan forgiveness programs! THESE ARE ZERO OUT OF POCKET.
1) Doing a combined DDS/Ph.D. program.
2) NHSC scholarships for DDS program
3) Military Health Professionals Scholarship for DDS program
1. Combined DDS / Ph.D. Program
In a nutshell, doing a combined DDS / Ph.D. program means full tuition plus being paid a stipend for your living expenses. This is a more economical way to go through the DDS program, where you’d have to pay full tuition and wouldn’t receive a stipend; however, these are competitive and require research/dissertation in addition to the regular demands of earning the DDS.
I did a Google search “DDS and Ph.D. with stipend” to get a started. I found that the schools offering these programs were public schools, not private, so my list is small-just a few minutes of looking. You can probably search all the public universities to find even more.
2. NHSC Scholarship for DDS
She should apply for the National Health Services Corps scholarship. They award 330 of these each year, so it’s competitive. This pays 100% tuition, $$$ monthly living expense stipend, all books, clinical supplies, uniforms, etc. are covered. Plus, undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) educational loans *may* be eligible for forgiveness through this program. It requires a 1:1 service commitment. For each year you get the award, you have to work in a Health Professionals Shortage Area for 1 year.
3. Military Health Professions Scholarship for DDS
These scholarships pay 100% tuition for the DDS and are offered through the Army, Navy, and Air Force. While in dental school of your choice, the student is placed on an “inactive” reserve, and upon graduation, will begin their service obligation. You have to already have your bachelor’s degree in and receive acceptance into a dental program before you see the recruiter. They are all about the same. You get a $20,000 sign-on bonus, monthly stipend, textbooks are provided, 100% of DDS tuition is covered, and you are required to provide 4 years of military dental service in exchange for the scholarship.
Each branch will vary, but this is the Army’s program:
- Full tuition (up to 4 years, depending on specialty)
- Books, equipment, other fees
- $2,300+ monthly stipend
- $20,000 sign-on bonus
- Officer’s pay during school breaks
- Monthly allowance for food and housing
- Salary increases with promotions, time in service and cost-of-living adjustments
- Be enrolled in (have a letter of acceptance from, or a list of schools applied to) an accredited graduate program in the U.S. or Puerto Rico:
- For Medical/Osteopathy: Be enrolled in an accredited school of medicine or osteopathy
- For Dental: Entry into any ADA-accredited D.D.S. or D.M.D. program
- For Veterinarian: Be enrolled in an AVMA-accredited DVM or VMD program
- For Specialty Nurse: Be enrolled in an accredited Bachelor of Nursing program
- For Counseling/Clinical Psychology: Be enrolled in an APA-accredited clinical or counseling psychology doctoral program
- For Optometry: Be enrolled in an accredited optometry program
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited school
- Maintain full-time student status during the length of the program
- Qualify as a commissioned officer
Can you become a dentist without student loan debt? Absolutely! Set a plan and go for it!