Life After Dental School

How to properly manage student loans after graduation

In a few short months we will be celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2016. Congratulations, grads – you're almost there! And while you have definitely learned a lot, there's probably one thing your teachers never taught you in school: how to pay for it. It's all pomp and circumstance until the first loan payment is due.

Life After Dental School

For many students, it's hard to think about graduation without thinking about paying back student loans. To date, the national average of debt per graduating dental school senior is approaching $300,000. Only 20% of dental school graduates reported debt less than $100,000. In other words, the vast majority of young dentists will have student loans to repay; you're not alone on the journey to becoming debt-free.

The good news is that with the right resources, managing your student loans doesn't have to be a hassle. Heartland Dental supported offices, have a program to assist our supported dentists with student loan repayment. They can receive up to $48,000 over time to use towards paying back student loans. Under the appropriate circumstances, supported doctors may even be eligible for sign-on bonuses and relocation compensation. In addition to added financial assistance, recent graduates are able to promptly take advantage of other monetary benefits like a guaranteed base salary. Heartland Dental also offers services like accounting, human resources, marketing, technical support and administrative staffing. In a traditional environment, these responsibilities can be overwhelming for a recent graduate and add to the debt they've already acquired. All of these factors combined allow young supported dentists to pay back student loan debt at an accelerated pace. With the help of Heartland Dental supported offices, there is no longer financial uncertainty when it comes to managing student loans.

"I'm very fortunate," said Dr. Anne Marie Ross, DMD from Dental Care of Spring Hill. "Paying for a dental education is a serious financial undertaking. I came out of school with a massive debt-load and was able to pay it off in five years. Without this support, it probably would have taken me five times that long."

If you are a new dental school graduate, here are some general tips to help manage your student loan debt:

  • Don't ignore it: Your student loans aren't going anywhere and ignoring them can lead to serious consequences. Paying loans on time accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score and carries the highest weight. If you think you won't be able to pay your loans, confront the situation and consult someone who can offer guidance.
  • Stay organized: Keeping track of your loans can be just as hard as paying them off. Remember to keep copies of all your loan documents. If possible, set-up an automatic payment. Not only will you never miss a payment, some lenders offer discounts for auto-pay. Part of staying organized is reading the fine-print. Be sure to know the ins and outs of your loan.
  • Develop a budget: While you're paying off your student loans, create a budget for yourself. Live below your means. Cut down spending on expensive or unnecessary items. It's probably not the best time to invest in a new sports car.
  • Pay early and pay often: If possible, start paying on your loans as soon as possible. Begin paying off the highest-interest-rate loans first. Pay more than the minimum payment every chance you get.
  • Make goals: At Heartland Dental, we firmly believe in achieving success by writing down goals. For example, determine a payoff date. After looking over your finances and loan agreements, when can you realistically payoff your loans? Visualizing goals, short-term and long-term, can help you feel accomplished when you reach them.

If the strain of student loans still seems intimidating, here's something to consider: In the most recent U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of the 100 best jobs, dentists earned the top spot. The industry received the No. 1 ranking for outstanding rates on job creation, salary, employment, job prospects, work-life balance, job satisfaction and low stress level. Impressive is an understatement. Evidently, it's a great time to be a part of the industry.