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  • Is Dental School worth 450K debt?

    Hello,

    I am just wondering, is dental school worth 450K debt? I don't have any family members in dentistry. Thus, I have no connections and have no relatives who own a practice. I am female and if I went to dental school, I would be 34 when I graduate. I am not sure if it is worth it from a strictly financial perspective.....Can any dentists, physicians, personal finance advisors or accountants/business people provide input?

    Thanks!!!

  • #2
    It would be tough unless you are in a specialty that pays more than the average dentist makes, which would probably take longer + more $, unless you've already accounted for that. You might want to post your question on Dentaltown or read the threads there. You'll find similar questions there with many opinions.

    Of course, the value/worth is subjective to a degree. You'll get your loans paid off if you buckle down and live lean for a few years out of training.
    Our passion is protecting clients and others from predatory advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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    • #3
      A better question would be: Can you graduate from dental school with less than $450K in debt?

      The answer has got to be yes. The average medical student graduates with ~ $180k in debt, and that's including debt carried over from undergrad.

      What are your alternatives? The answer to the original question depends on how you are getting by now. If you have the potential for a six-figure income in your current line of work, the answer seems obvious. If you're doing social work for the county at $30,000 a year, it might be worth exploring a different career path if you are interested in making more money.

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      • #4
        PhysicianOnFire, Medical School is much cheaper than Dental School unfortunately.

        Here is the cost of most private dental schools:

        http://dental.nyu.edu/academicprograms/dds-program/tuition.html

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        • #5
          My background: I am a female physician married to a dentist.

          Whether it is worth it depends on a few different factors. Many dentists coming out of dental school end up in associate positions making around $80,000 - $120,000.  The dentists that make the larger incomes, >$200,000 tend to be small business owners.  You must ask yourself whether you want to be a small business owner. This is different then the practice of medicine where most full time family med physicians can make at least $180,000 without having to purchase a practice. Purchasing a dental practice can be $500k to $1.5 M.  Just like in medicine, if you are willing to relocate to a "less desirable" area then you are more likely to find a higher paying position.

          The other thing to keep in mind is that in my opinion dentistry is less forgiving for women and childbearing.  Because dentists tend to work either for themselves or in small groups it is rare to find one with a maternity leave policy. If you own your own business you may find that in addition to not getting maternity leave you have to pay someone to cover your office.   It is not impossible but it may be the reason why plenty of women have babies during their dental school years.

          Another consideration is that unlike medicine, dentists also are not as likely to get public service loan forgiveness unless they work for a federally qualified health center (FQHC).  While you will likely qualify for income based repayment, it will increase your overall debt paid.

          I am definitely not trying to make the outlook sound bleak, but I would recommend being ready to live frugally for at least ten years.  If you have a partner, discussing plans for children and childcare is also quite important to be sure you are both on the same page.  I would also do a search on DentalTown because they discuss this as well.

           

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          • #6




            My background: I am a female physician married to a dentist.

            Whether it is worth it depends on a few different factors. Many dentists coming out of dental school end up in associate positions making around $80,000 – $120,000.  The dentists that make the larger incomes, >$200,000 tend to be small business owners.  You must ask yourself whether you want to be a small business owner. This is different then the practice of medicine where most full time family med physicians can make at least $180,000 without having to purchase a practice. Purchasing a dental practice can be $500k to $1.5 M.  Just like in medicine, if you are willing to relocate to a “less desirable” area then you are more likely to find a higher paying position.

            The other thing to keep in mind is that in my opinion dentistry is less forgiving for women and childbearing.  Because dentists tend to work either for themselves or in small groups it is rare to find one with a maternity leave policy. If you own your own business you may find that in addition to not getting maternity leave you have to pay someone to cover your office.   It is not impossible but it may be the reason why plenty of women have babies during their dental school years.

            Another consideration is that unlike medicine, dentists also are not as likely to get public service loan forgiveness unless they work for a federally qualified health center (FQHC).  While you will likely qualify for income based repayment, it will increase your overall debt paid.

            I am definitely not trying to make the outlook sound bleak, but I would recommend being ready to live frugally for at least ten years.  If you have a partner, discussing plans for children and childcare is also quite important to be sure you are both on the same page.  I would also do a search on DentalTown because they discuss this as well.

             
            Click to expand...


            Hello, Ms IMDoc,

            Thanks for your response.......To be honest, I am not sure I want to own a private practice.....The thought of going over a million in debt to own a practice sounds really scary to me.....Also there is no guarantee when you open a practice, that you will actually make a 200K income....There are Dentists that have gone bankrupt and had to sell their practice....I will have to look more into this. I would rather avoid the responsibility of owning and running a practice....Now I know why the majority of people at the private dental school I interviewed had parents who were Dentists.....It makes a lot more sense financially if you are getting a practice from your parents and their patient base.

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            • #7




              It would be tough unless you are in a specialty that pays more than the average dentist makes, which would probably take longer + more $, unless you’ve already accounted for that. You might want to post your question on Dentaltown or read the threads there. You’ll find similar questions there with many opinions.

              Of course, the value/worth is subjective to a degree. You’ll get your loans paid off if you buckle down and live lean for a few years out of training.
              Click to expand...


              I am not interested in specializing or accruing more debt for a speciality. Dental residencies cost money and I would be 34 when I finished dental school. I can't register for Dentaltown unfortunately because you need to have proof that you are a dentist, dental student or work in the dental industry (which I don't) in order to join their community.

              I used a loan repayment calculator and I would need to live off almost nothing (or someone else's salary) to pay it off in 10 years after graduating. 10 years after graduating, I would be 44....Not sure if it is worth it to only start saving/investing at age 44

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              • #8


                I can’t register for Dentaltown unfortunately because you need to have proof that you are a dentist, dental student or work in the dental industry (which I don’t) in order to join their community.
                Click to expand...


                I'm a member (although I don't have time to post). There is a section for advisors or something, can't remember, but you should be able to at least get in to read, if not to post. It took several steps, if I recall correctly, but they a monitor who will assist.
                Our passion is protecting clients and others from predatory advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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                • #9
                  I think $450K in educational debt for a job that pays $120K is a bad deal and would caution against it. Now, if you can get out of school for $250K or less, then sure. If you can figure out a way to make $250K, then sure. Otherwise, I think you ought to either look into a specialty (met a periodontist/small business owner the other day making $1.6M) or do something else. $450K in student loans have very real consequences even though it seems like monopoly money now.
                  Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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                  • #10




                    PhysicianOnFire, Medical School is much cheaper than Dental School unfortunately.

                    Here is the cost of most private dental schools:

                    http://dental.nyu.edu/academicprograms/dds-program/tuition.html
                    Click to expand...


                    I've never heard that before -- so I checked the tuition at my alma mater.

                    Medical school tuition is $38,000 for residents, and dental school is $35,000. Tack on $20,000+ for non-residents.

                    There are two public dental schools in NY with tuition of $34,000 to $35,000.

                    That's the cost of tuition only, but if you have a public school option, you could get out with less than $450k in debt.

                    Dental school does not appear to be  more expensive than medical school, but the average med school debt includes those who had family help, scholarship, jobs beforehand, etc... and that number ($180k) is from people that finished a year or two ago.

                    Good luck with your decision -- just trying to help you make an informed one.

                    -PoF

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                    • #11
                      I have long been under the impression the average dental school was more expensive, it certainly was where I went (private). There are far far less dental schools and positions, actually was shocked at how few dental spots there are and that it actually contracted to less than 5k applicants at the end of the 80s. Seems crazy.

                      From a WSJ article-

                      "That said, physicians’ debt/salary picture looks a lot better than dentists’. Median debt for medical school graduates is $175,000, for dentists $200,000. But according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, experienced physicians and surgeons earn a median of $207,000; dentists earn about $125,000."

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                      • #12




                        I have long been under the impression the average dental school was more expensive, it certainly was where I went (private). There are far far less dental schools and positions, actually was shocked at how few dental spots there are and that it actually contracted to less than 5k applicants at the end of the 80s. Seems crazy.

                        From a WSJ article-

                        “That said, physicians’ debt/salary picture looks a lot better than dentists’. Median debt for medical school graduates is $175,000, for dentists $200,000. But according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, experienced physicians and surgeons earn a median of $207,000; dentists earn about $125,000.”
                        Click to expand...


                        Yes, it definitely is more expensive.....Wow the median for dentists is only 125K????

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                        • #13
                          Have you actually been accepted to a dental school?  Have you thought about medical school instead?  If it is cheaper and pays better why not?

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                          • #14
                            Not knowing your current status in life (income, family, assets, marital status, etc.) and your educational background, a nurse practitioner or PA might be worth considering. I have long thought that the time and money investment to become a PA/NP is a better deal than a pediatrician or general practitioner. It might compare favorably, as well, to a general dentist.

                            I have a friend currently in a dental residency, gaining experience and earning barely enough to live on, while his parents are paying the interest (or minimum payments) on his $375k debt bomb. He is quite a bit younger, 27 IIRC, and drowning in debt but not truly aware of it at the moment.

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                            • #15
                              It's bad for dentists lately, but it's worse for attorneys and even worse than that for veterinarians.
                              Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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