Updated on

Dental School Loans: Best Options To Consider in 2023

You may need dental school loans if you want to become a dentist but can’t afford to pay for school out of pocket. Being a dentist can be a lucrative and rewarding career and you get to help your patients with their smiles.

Dental School Loans
Allison Bethell
Written by:Allison Bethell
Real Estate Expert

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may affect which companies we write about and where the company appears on a page. However, any analyses, or reviews expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been approved or endorsed by any partner.

You’ve always wanted to become a dentist, maybe one of your parents is a dentist, or you just want to help people, but you know you can’t afford to go to dental school. It can be expensive, costing upwards of $151,508 for in-state or public school, and even more for private school. To fund this dream of yours, you may need dental school loans. If you don’t qualify for a grant, or a student loan, or you missed the deadline, you may need to take out an unsecured loan to pay for dental school. Our team of financial experts reviewed and ranked more than 30 online lenders to help you get funded.

brand reviews

Top Picks for The Best Dental School Loans

  • College Ave - Best for Simplified Loan Process
  • Funding U - Best for Loans Without Cosigners
  • Sallie Mae - Best for Additional Dental Loans
  • RISLA - Best for Flexible Repayment
  • Navient - Best for Multiple Repayment Options

Best Dental School Loans for 2023 - Full Overview 

College Ave Student Loans - Best for Simplified Loan Process


College Ave Student Loans offers undergraduate and graduate school loans including dental school loans, law school loans, and medical school loans, MBA loans, and more. The company’s goal is to make the loan process as streamlined and easy as possible. Its website has helpful tips on applying for dental school loans, when to start, and what to expect.

Flexible repayment options
Zero origination fees
Choose fixed or variable rates
Minimum income requirements
Cosigner release: after halfway through payment term
International student must have cosigner

With College Ave Student Loans, you can apply online in three minutes. They offer four types of loan repayment options and a residency deferment. There’s a twelve month grace period and interest rates for fixed rate loans start at 3.99%. Variable rates start at 1.99%. All named rates include the auto-pay discount. Loan terms range from five to twenty years.


The Bottom Line

This lender is a good option for dental school loans because they have a simple application process, offer informative tools on their website, and offer competitive interest rates. They also offer options when it comes to repaying your loan and choosing the type of dental school loan that best fits your needs.

Funding U - Best for Loans Without Cosigners


Funding U is 100% focused on offering student loans without cosigner requirements. This is their specialty and they aim to be helpful, straightforward, and fast. When students repay their dental school student loans, it allows the company to lend to more students. The company has a blog, FAQs and resources on their site to learn more about student loans and how they work. They offer private student loans and are designed to be complimentary educational funding, so students can first apply for financial aid, work study, and scholarships, and then turn to Student U if they need additional funds.

No cosigner required
Helpful blogs and answers to frequently asked questions
Loan amounts dispersed evenly throughout semesters
Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Need to get additional funding
G.P.A requirements: 2.5+

Keep in mind that Funding U isn’t specifically for dental school loans, instead it can help you pay for your undergraduate degree before you go onto dental school. Loans come with ten year terms and fixed interest rates starting at 6.99%. The annual loan amount ranges from $3,001 to $20,000, with a total loan limit of $100,000

The Bottom Line

Funding U is a good option if you know you want to go to dental school, but are still in your undergraduate years. They can provide funding for those years with no credit or income requirements. Additionally, they don’t require cosigners, so you can get the loan yourself.

Sallie Mae - Best for Additional Dental Loans

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is one of the largest private student loan lenders. They offer undergraduate student loans, as well as dental school, medical school, and career training loans. Specifically, get a loan for endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics. They also offer loans for dental residencies and relocation. You can apply once and get a loan for the entire school year, rather than applying each semester.

Choose loan option that suits you
Variable and fixed rate loans
Deferred repayment option: 12 months after school
Best rates for borrowers with highest credit scores
Restrictions for international students
Interest is charged when funds are sent to the school

Sallie Mae dental school loans have no origination fees and include all of your related dental school expenses such as fees, books, and housing. There isn’t a loan max. Loans can be deferred twelve months after graduation from dental school and qualified borrowers can get interest only loan options. Variable rates start at 2.5% and fixed rates start at 4.25%. Rates reflect a 0.25% auto pay discount. Loan terms vary and minimum credit score and income thresholds must be met in order to qualify. Contact the lender directly for specifics.

The Bottom Line

Sallie Mae is a great option for dental school loans if you want to pay for all of your expenses with one company. They will cover books, fees, housing, and more. And if you do a dental residency or need to relocate, there are loans for that too.

RISLA - Best for Flexible Repayment

RISLA offers dental school loans, in addition to other graduate school loans, undergraduate loans, and refinancing for your current student loans. The lender’s site is informative and includes a student loan calculator so you can see approximately how much your loan payments will be. Your credit score doesn’t determine your rate and RISLA is a non profit company so is able to offer affordable student loans to its borrowers. Another payment flexibility option is partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships and interest forgiveness for some nurses. RISLA is able to offer these features because it’s a quasi-governmental agency. Also, these loans are available to students outside of Rhode Island.

No minimum credit score required
Discounts and rewards: auto-pay and internships
Competitive interest rates
Yearly loan limits: $45,000
No variable rates: So higher initial interest rates
Minimum income requirement: $40,000+

RISLA doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement for its dental school loans, but credit, income, and other financial parameters are considered in order to qualify for a loan. All loans come with fixed interest rates which start at 4.99%. There are different loan options including immediate payments, deferred payments, and auto-pay loans. Terms range from ten to fifteen years.

The Bottom Line

RISLA has a lot of different student loan options and is a good choice if you want to refinance your current loan. The website does a good job of explaining its loans, terms, and typical monthly payments.

Read more in the full RISLA review.

Navient - Best for Multiple Repayment Options


Navient services and manages a variety of student loan programs, in addition to refinancing student loans including dental school loans. Its goal is to help people achieve student loan success. It offers multiple options for dental school loan repayment plans and thorough explanations of each option. The company also offers business processing solutions.

Choose a repayment plan that works for you
Learn details about repaying your dental school loan
Payment relief programs for federal loans
Doesn’t offer new dental school loans
Options are available at lender’s discretion
Can’t see rates without applying

You need to apply to find out what type of repayment plan structure you will qualify for, or if you can refinance your current student loan. Rates, terms, fees, and loan amounts vary by lender. If you’re a borrower who is struggling to repay your student loan, Navient has multiple repayment options to choose from.

The Bottom Line

Navient is a good option if you want to refinance a current dental school loan so you can get a longer term or a lower interest rate. It’s also helpful if you want to check out detailed information on student loans and learn terminology you may not be familiar with.

Discover - Best for Additional Products and Services


Discover, known for its credit cards, and banking services, also offers private dental school loans with competitive rates. The website is full of resources for both parents and students with information on loans, repayment plans, loan calculators, and more. Dental school loans fall under the category of health professional loans with Discover.

Cash rewards for good grades
Additional services same place as loan: bank and credit cards
No application or origination fees
Best rates only for high credit borrowers
Most loans require a cosigner
Rate discounts may change during the course of the loan

Discover offers dental school loans with variable rates starting at 2.49% and fixed rates starting at 4.49%. No minimum credit score is disclosed but credit and income are checked and eligibility requirements must be met from the borrower or the cosigner. Payments can be deferred up to nine months after graduating from school. Loan terms are twenty years.

The Bottom Line

Discover is a good lender if you want to use the same company for your dental school loan, credit card, and bank account. It also has high loan limits, and helpful resources on applying for and understanding student loans.

Education Loan Finance - Best for Calculating Student Loan Costs


Education Loan Finance offers loans for dental school, in addition to other graduate school loans, undergraduate loans, parent loans, and refinancing for current student loans. You can navigate around the site to check out helpful loan resources, a student loan calculator, and to find your approximate rate.

Choose fixed or variable rate loans
Don’t have to be full-time: Can be enrolled half time
No loan maximum: Varies based on cost of attendance
Minimum credit score: 680+
No international students without permanent resident status
Fixed interest rates are higher than variable rates

To qualify for a dental school loan with Education Loan Finance, you need a minimum credit score of 680. Loan terms range from five to fifteen years and loans start at $1,000. The loan maximum isn’t set, it depends on the cost of attendance. Variable rates start at 1.3% and fixed rate loans start at 3.2%.


The Bottom Line

This is a good option for dental school loans because they offer a variety of loans with varying rates and repayment terms. You can also check out your rate ahead of time and see what your approximate monthly payments will be.


How to Choose the Best Dental School Loan?

You know you want to go to dental school and you need a dental school loan to pay for it. Before, you choose just any loan, do your research. Compare lenders, rates, loan terms, and know exactly how much the loan will cost you. Our experts used specific parameters to rank the best loans for dental school. 
Consider the following factors when choosing student loans for dental school: 

  • Loan Features: Know the features, what they mean and how they work. Be familiar with loan terms, loan amounts, and loan use limitations. For example, can you use this particular loan to pay for dental school. Interest rates and fees - Considers different types of fees such as application fees, prepayment penalties, late fees, and the minimum and maximum interest rates. These will all affect how much the total loan costs you.
  • Application process: Can you apply online, over-the-phone, or in-person? How invasive is the application process? Know what documents are required in order to apply such as yourincome, employment history, proof of undergraduate degree, G.P.A. requirements and so on. Find out if the lender does a hard-pull or soft-pull on your credit score. Once approved, how long will it take to fund the loan and how will you receive the funds? Will you have access to them or will they go straight to the dental school? 
  • Qualification process:  Know what you need to do to qualify for dental school loans. What are the minimum credit score and income requirements? Will you need a co-signer and if so, is this allowed? If you’re getting an unsecured loan through a credit union, you may need to be a member in order to get approved. 
  • Customer support: Consider accessibility to a live CSR rep, the degree of multi-channel support, and the availability of supplemental information and tools. Will there be someone available around the clock to answer your questions? 
  • Online user reviews: Check out reviews on independent review sites like Trustpilot and see what borrowers are saying. Look for trends, such as bad customer service, hidden fees, or easy loan application process. Check out negative and positive reviews for potential lenders. 
  • Perks and Bonuses: Consider specified service offerings like payment flexibility, advertising transparency, and advanced technology. When will you need to start repaying the loan? Does the lender offer any discounts for things like auto-pay or any other specific perks? 

Best Dental School Loans - Feature Comparison

Company NameEst. APRMin. credit scoreLoan AmountLoan term
College Ave Student Loans1.99%+ (variable)Mid 600s+Not listed 5 - 20 years 
Funding U6.99%+ (fixed)NoneUp to $100,000 total 10 years
Sallie Mae2.5%+ (variable)Not statedNo limitVaries 
RISLA4.99%+ (fixed)NoneUp to $45,000 per year 10 - 15 years 
Fiona3.99%+VariesUp to $250,0006 months - 12 years 
NavientVariesVaries by lenderVaries by lenderVaries by lender 
Discover2.49%+ (variable)Not disclosedUp to cost of attendance 20 years 
Education Loan Finance1.3%+ (variable)680$1,000 - cost of attendance 5 - 15 years

What’s The Average Cost of Dental school?

The average cost of dental school is $151,508 for an in-state school or a public school. A private or out-of-state school will have an even higher price. When you’re considering dental school, you will want to look at all of the associated costs in addition to your tuition. Consider relocation costs, living expenses, books, lab fees, supplies, food, and travel expenses. Also, consider the cost of living in the area the school is located in. If you’re from rural Iowa, and goto dental school in Los Angeles, there will be a huge increase in your cost of living. 

How Do Dental School Loans Work?

A dental school loan is a loan that you borrow to pay for dental school once your four year undergraduate degree is completed. Dental school is typically for four years and there are different types of loans to help you afford the hefty cost. You would need to apply for these loans, usually online. Some loans require a cosigner such as a parent or guardian, and other loans you can get on your own. Each loan has different qualification criteria and application processes that we will get into below. 

Typically, once you’ve applied for a dental loan, the funds will be disbursed to the school and in some cases you will get the ‘leftover’ funds to pay additional school-related expenses. You can choose to make small payments during school, but most students defer their student loans until after they graduate and some lenders allow repayment to begin twelve months after graduation. This gives you some time to make some money as a dentist before repaying your loans.

Types of Dental School Loans

There are many different types of dental school loans. There are private loans for dental school, federal dental school loans, and dental school loans for international students. Additionally, you may get an unsecured personal loan to pay for dental school or may borrow the money from friends or family members.

Federal Student Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are student loans that have accruing interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. You can immediately start paying the interest in small payments, or the more popular option is to allow it to accrue and to pay it, along with the principal, after you graduate from dental school. Unsubsidized loans can be used in addition to subsidized loans and they generally offer several repayment options post-graduation.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans (Grad PLUS)


These types of loans are federal loans used to pay for graduate school such as dental or medical school. When the loan is made to a graduate or professional student it’s called a Grad PLUS loan, when it’s made to a parent, it’s called a Parent PLUS loan. To be eligible for these loans, you must meet some general eligibility requirements, not have adverse credit history, and must be enrolled in a graduate degree or certificate program at least half the time.

Private Student Loans

The best private loans for dental school offer the most competitive rates, the lowest fees, and flexible repayment terms, as well as deferment until after you graduate. You can get private student loans from online lenders, banks, credit unions, and other major financial institutions. 

Other Loan Types

Health Professions Student Loan (HPSL) is a low-interest loan offered by the U.S. government to students pursuing specific degrees in the health industry such as a Bachelor or Doctor of Science in Pharmacy or a Doctor of Dentistry. They’re need based loans and can be used by full-time and part-time students.

Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS) are low-interest loans reserved for full-time students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are pursuing a medical degree. The students must meet certain eligibility requirements. The U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services offers these loans.

Institutional Loans are loans offered directly by the school or institution to the students. This is normally coordinated by The Financial Aid Office. These loans aren’t federal and need to be paid back, usually with interest. They’re usually offered to students who are accepted to the school but have a gap between their loan amounts and the money needed for tuition. For example, a student may receive $30,000 for the year in federal loans, but the total amount needed to attend is $38,000. The student may be able to get an institutional loan for the outstanding $8,000.

Dental School Loan Comparison Chart

 Federal Direct UnsubsidizedFederal Direct PLUS (Grad PLUS)PrivateInstitutional
LenderFederal governmentFederal governmentPrivate lenderSchool
EligibilityBased on attendance costBased on attendance costCredit and income vary by lenderContact financial aid office for details 
CitizenshipU.S. citizen or permanent residentU.S. citizen or permanent residentMay allow a non U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a qualified cosignerContact financial aid office for details 
Annual Limit$40,500Cost of attendance minus other aid Varies by lender Varies by cost of attendance at each school
Interest Rate5.28% 6.28%VariesVaries
Interest SubsidyNoneNone NoneMay be interest free during school 
Grace Period6 months None but 6 months deferment Varies by lenderUsually 6 - 12 months 
Repayment PlansMultipleMultipleVaries by lenderUsually 10 years
Eligible for Public Service Loan ForgivenessYes if requirements are metYes if requirements are metNoNo
Postponement OptionsMultiple options Multiple options Varies by lenderContact financial aid office for details 

Pros and Cons of Private Dental School Loans

Below are the pros and cons of private dental school loans.


Pros of private dental school loans include:

  • Non U.S. citizen may be eligible with a cosigner
  • Higher borrowing limits than public loans
  • May get a lower variable interest rate than a higher fixed rate with a public loan

Cons of private dental school loans include:


  • Large variance between lenders: Need to research and compare 
  • Credit and income restrictions
  • May be cost prohibitive to some borrowers

How to Apply for Private Dental School Loans

When applying for private dental school loans, you will want to do the following:

  • First check out all possible grants, scholarships, and any paid internships or work-study programs that can reduce the amount of student loans you will need
  • Next you can either apply for federal student loans and if you don’t get approved, or don’t get the amount of money you need, you can apply for a supplemental private loan. Or, if you know you won’t qualify, you can skip this step, and just go straight to applying for private dental school loans
  • Check out a few different lenders such as Sallie Mae and your bank or credit union to see which offer the best private dental school loans. 
  • Compare rates, terms, and fees. Keep in mind that private loan qualifications and costs will vary by lender. Another thing to note, is unlike public loans, private loans don’t usually offer debt forgiveness or other benefits like income-driven repayment plans.
  • Choose the loan that best suits your needs and apply online. You may need a cosigner and will typically need proof of citizenship, identification, proof of undergraduate degree, bank statements, tax returns, and proof of employment. Most loans can only be used if you’re going to be a full time dental student so you will need to be registered as full-time to be eligible.
  • Once approved, find out how much the loan amount is, double check all the fees, and see how the loan will be disbursed. Find out if you need to reapply each year or each semester and when you need to start paying back the loan. 
  • Stop worrying about finances and focus on your studies and your dream of becoming a dentist!


What dental school loans qualify for student loan forgiveness?

Student loan forgiveness is offered by some federal and state programs. If you work in an underserved community or in the public sector, you may be eligible for student loan forgiveness. States offer loan forgiveness in certain areas where there are shortages in a specific type of healthcare professional such as a dentist. Legislative bills are also passed to aid in creating new programs for student loan forgiveness.

How can I reduce my dental school debt?

You can reduce your dental school debt in a number of ways:

  • Qualify for a scholarship
  • Receive a grant
  • Participate in work-study or a paid internship
  • Borrow money from your family
  • Refinance dental school debt to reduce the interest rate and monthly payments
What’s the best student loan for dental school?

The best student loan for dental school all depends on your needs and qualifications. If you have a cosigner with excellent credit and high income, the right student loan for you is going to be different than the best student loan for someone without a cosigner and who doesn’t meet credit or income requirements. Generally, try to get ‘free money’ first in the form of grants and scholarships and then check out dental school loans that offer competitive rates, discounts, and flexible repayment terms.

How much dental school debt do students typically take on?

Students typically take on around $304,824 in dental loan debt. This includes any undergraduate debt, as well as dental school loans. This is a lot of money and you may be able to refinance your debt, work in an under-served sector that offers debt-forgiveness, pay down your debt early, or extend your repayment period so your monthly payments are more manageable.

What interest rates are charged on student loans for dental school?

Interest rates charged in student loans for dental school vary quite a bit. The lowest rates tend to be variable rate loans offered to creditworthy borrowers. These rates may start around 2%. Other rates that are fixed tend to start over 3%. If your credit score isn’t great, expect an interest rate over 6%.

How long does it take to pay off dental school loans?

Dental school loan terms typically range from five to twenty years. How long it takes to pay them off depends on a variety of factors including your initial loan amount, if you’re paying the minimum payment, or adding more to your payment each month, and what your interest rate is, and if you refinance the loan to add more time to your repayment schedule.

Different types of dentists make different salaries so if you can afford to pay down your dental loan, it’s advisable, so you save money on interest. Some dentists have their loans paid off within a few years and others are still paying back their loans more than a decade after graduating from dental school.

Related Loan Picks

Show More
Allison Bethel

Allison Bethell

Real Estate Expert

Allison has over 15 years of real estate experience, including sales, management, investing, and marketing. She also has more than seven years of content writing experience on a broad range of topics. She spends her time writing engaging, SEO friendly content, investing in real estate, traveling, and hanging out with...

More about me