About how long will it probably take me to pay off my dental school loans?

Jun 26, 2009
27
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I am still working on my bachelors degree in biology, but I am trying to think ahead. I want to pay of my dental school loans as fast as I can after I graduate. I think I will be in a practice with other dentists, at first. I don't know which dental school I will be attending or how much it will cost, so I know that it probably isn't possible to tell me exactly how long it will take me to take me to pay back my loans. I basically just want an estimate. I heard that most dentists have an average debt of $130,000 when they graduate from dental school. I will look for scholarships and other sources of income to avoid loans as much as possible.
If I use all of my earnings from my first year as a dentist, do you think that I will be able to pay almost all the loans off in that first year? Thank you!
 

aphistis

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2003
8,392
35
Indianapolis
Status
Attending Physician, Dentist
The reasoning is longer than I have time to explain here, but as long as you try to live halfway frugally during dental school, your student loan debt should be very manageable after you graduate, and probably won't be your first financial priority.
 

whlee84

10+ Year Member
Feb 11, 2008
170
0
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Almost impossible to pay off all your loans after just 1 year of working. You will make at most $120,000 your first year out (that's an over estimate), and after taxes it will shrink to a net income of about $90,000. If you pay every single penny of your income towards your loan, it will take at least 2 full years. But then, are you going to live on the streets for 2 years??

And most likely, you will have a debt of more than $130,000...unless you attend the cheapest state school possible and get a lot of help from your parents and/or scholarships.
 

aphistis

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2003
8,392
35
Indianapolis
Status
Attending Physician, Dentist
Almost impossible to pay off all your loans after just 1 year of working. You will make at most $120,000 your first year out (that's an over estimate), and after taxes it will shrink to a net income of about $90,000. If you pay every single penny of your income towards your loan, it will take at least 2 full years. But then, are you going to live on the streets for 2 years??

And most likely, you will have a debt of more than $130,000...unless you attend the cheapest state school possible and get a lot of help from your parents and/or scholarships.
Uh, WRONG. I just started my first private practice job last week, and I can tell you point-blank your guarantee does not even come close to applying to me. I'm not your typical new grad and I landed a very attractive practice opportunity, but you ought to be very, very careful making generalizations about private practice when you're still in your first month of dental school.
 
Last edited:

Stephie3

10+ Year Member
Nov 1, 2008
387
1
Status
Pre-Dental
do you think that I will be able to pay almost all the loans off in that first year? Thank you!
a lot of people on here have brought up a good point about debt. if you have several different debts (let's say you have two), you need to concentrate on paying off the higher interest rate one first.

for example, let's say your student loans are fixed at 6% interest rate. then let's say you take out a loan to buy a practice or house at 8% interest rate. the practice has a higher interest rate, so you want to pay it off over a shorter period of years whereas you can stretch out the student loans for longer. while it would be nice to say you have all your student loans paid off in a few short years, it might make more since to keep them around while you're focusing paying off higher interest loans first.

i'm not the best person at explaining this money kind of stuff, but i hope that helps.
 

DrReo

"Thread Necromancer"
10+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2007
3,117
13
Status
Academic Administration
Uh, WRONG. I just started my first private practice job last week, and I can tell you point-blank your guarantee does not even come close to applying to me. I'm not your typical new grad and I landed a very attractive practice opportunity, but you ought to be very, very careful making generalizations about private practice when you're still in your first month of dental school.
In a ballpark sense, what percent was whlee's generalization off?
 

Aznfarmerboi

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
May 18, 2005
2,094
167
Status
Pharmacist
a lot of people on here have brought up a good point about debt. if you have several different debts (let's say you have two), you need to concentrate on paying off the higher interest rate one first.

for example, let's say your student loans are fixed at 6% interest rate. then let's say you take out a loan to buy a practice or house at 8% interest rate. the practice has a higher interest rate, so you want to pay it off over a shorter period of years whereas you can stretch out the student loans for longer. while it would be nice to say you have all your student loans paid off in a few short years, it might make more since to keep them around while you're focusing paying off higher interest loans first.

i'm not the best person at explaining this money kind of stuff, but i hope that helps.
I thought that was common sense... no need to explain to somebody who will be a dentist one day. :thumbup:
 

whlee84

10+ Year Member
Feb 11, 2008
170
0
Status
Resident [Any Field]
aphistis, i wasn't talking about private practice. i was just talking about first year salary of a fresh grad, working as an associate. $100 - 120K is a realistic starting salary, from what i've heard and read.

don't make it sound like i was off by a million dollars on the starting salary lol
 
N

NAVY DDS 2010

..... You will make at most $120,000 your first year out (that's an over estimate), and after taxes it will shrink to a net income of about $90,000 ......
aphistis, i wasn't talking about private practice. i was just talking about first year salary of a fresh grad, working as an associate. $100 - 120K is a realistic starting salary, from what i've heard and read.

don't make it sound like i was off by a million dollars on the starting salary lol
whlee, in defense of aphistis, you made no mention of differentiation between private practice, associateships or working for a dental farm (dental corporations like Castle Dentistry). I have highlighted above what you said in your posts. You said that 'at most' and that the figure you stated was probably an 'overestimate'. Aphisitis was simply telling you not go make absolute generalizations like you did because the way you stated it as a fact, it was clearly wrong because some people do make more than $120k per year right out of d-school. It depends on where they get a job. I know one person who is a very good dental student who is near the top of the class who is both smart and has mad hand skills. He produces quality work at the speed of a dentist who has been practicing for a long time. He has been guaranteed a job out of d-school in a clinic that he will eventually become a partner at. The current owner is building the clinic aroud my friend. He has guaranteed him more than you stated with benefits and profit sharing and buy in rights after 5 years. I know his is not lying because he could get into any residency, but feels this opportunity is too good to pass up because of career goals and financially. I know for a fact that yoru statement is wring as a generalization. It is comments like yours (regarding all types of topics here on SDN) that get plastered in the various forums that people take as the truth because someone like you make it sound like this is the truth, the whole truth and nothign but the truth. Next time, maybe you should state 'for a majority of grauating dentists, the make $120k at most' or would have just said ' $100-120k is a realistic starting salary for most people in the first year'. These cover both sides - that most people make under a certain amount and that you acknowledge there are some people who do make more.

Back to my respose to yours. 'Don't make it sound like I was a million dollars off on the starting salary' - well, you may have been substantially off. His starting salary could be $150k. That is a 25% difference. That is a huge difference in first year salaries especially when you stated - (not a million off, but still $2,500 per month off).
 

aphistis

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2003
8,392
35
Indianapolis
Status
Attending Physician, Dentist
aphistis, i wasn't talking about private practice. i was just talking about first year salary of a fresh grad, working as an associate. $100 - 120K is a realistic starting salary, from what i've heard and read.

don't make it sound like i was off by a million dollars on the starting salary lol
Do you not realize that associateship *is* private practice?
 

aphistis

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2003
8,392
35
Indianapolis
Status
Attending Physician, Dentist
In a ballpark sense, what percent was whlee's generalization off?
In a ballpark sense, whlee's generalization is off substantially. :)

Since I don't use SDN anonymously, I'd rather not reveal the details of my salary package.
 

whlee84

10+ Year Member
Feb 11, 2008
170
0
Status
Resident [Any Field]
ok, next time i will make SURE to write "in general" when making a generalization. lol guys, of course the $120K figure was an estimate...there are thousands of fresh grads who make more than $120K, and there are thousands who make less than $120K.

I never said $120K was the absolute salary for all fresh grads. I was just simply using the number as a realistic average to make the point that it is nearly impossible to pay off 100% of your loans in 1 year.

and aphistis, how can you say that associateship is equivalent to private practice? As an associate, you work for someone in a private practice and get paid a salary. You get your work done, and go home. As a private practioner, you own your own office and you run the show. you pay salary to other staff members who work for you and you pick and choose your own office hours.

Of course if you have your own private practice fresh out of school, you can make more than $120K, maybe closer to $150K. As an associate, a starting salary of $150K is not common, and you better be excellent in your skills, work in a non-saturated area, and be very lucky :)
 

whlee84

10+ Year Member
Feb 11, 2008
170
0
Status
Resident [Any Field]
aphistis, how can you say my $120K estimation was substantially off? it's a national average, and of course location, GPR's, and benefits can change that number...but i do not think it's a ridiculous number for someone who just graduated 4 years of school and trying to get a job as an associate without a GPR. you might want to check out this "first year salary" thread...

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=622048
 
N

NAVY DDS 2010

I never said $120K was the absolute salary for all fresh grads. I was just simply using the number as a realistic average to make the point that it is nearly impossible to pay off 100% of your loans in 1 year.
No, you said "You will make at most $120,000 your first year out (that's an over estimate)." That comment pretty much implies that $120k is the most a person will make and that the figure you stated is a high end figure (over estimate).

If you read aphistis' comment, the salary you claim is at most a first year will make was significantly lower than HIS. He was not comparing himself to the national average (a figure that you never mentioned to what you determining your figure). He was comparing himself to the 'at most' value you claimed. His salary is 'significantly higher' than $120k. It may be the top 10% of all fresh grads salaries, but he is stating it is possible to get significantly higher than what you claimed.

He never said he owned the private practice. He said his first private practice job. There are associate positions at private practices.
 
N

NAVY DDS 2010

well then aphistis should NOT be telling people that my generalization is significantly off...he should just say that his salary is higher than my generalization. but anyway, going back to the original post...it's nearly impossible to pay off your loan in 1 year if your debt is $130K coming out of school...that would mean you need to have a starting salary of more than $160K (before taxes) plus pay every single penny of that toward your loan...lol
Since we are getting nitpicky, yes, he should have clarified that last comment by saying that your generalization is significantly off his salary. But, if you read all his posts you'd know that he was talking about that he was talking about his salary. You are the one who totally missed that he already stated that in a previous statement.

So we can end this here and now, here are the facts!!! You made a generalization in your comment that came across the wrong way. We all now know you meant it as an average, not as the top salary level that it came across as. We all now know that Aphistis was referring to his salary being signifcantly higher than the value you stated - meaning there are jobs out there that do exceed $120k in the first year.

That said - yes, it is pretty much impossible to pay off a $130k student loan in the first year out of d-school unless you come from a family of money or are married to someone who can support you.
 

NyCzPeter

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2008
672
3
Status
Dental Student
That said - yes, it is pretty much impossible to pay off a $130k student loan in the first year out of d-school unless you come from a family of money or are married to someone who can support you.
Cougar ftw. Believe me, I've been lookin :D
 
Jul 15, 2009
24
0
Status
Dentist
I am still working on my bachelors degree in biology, but I am trying to think ahead. I want to pay of my dental school loans as fast as I can after I graduate. I think I will be in a practice with other dentists, at first. I don't know which dental school I will be attending or how much it will cost, so I know that it probably isn't possible to tell me exactly how long it will take me to take me to pay back my loans. I basically just want an estimate. I heard that most dentists have an average debt of $130,000 when they graduate from dental school. I will look for scholarships and other sources of income to avoid loans as much as possible.
If I use all of my earnings from my first year as a dentist, do you think that I will be able to pay almost all the loans off in that first year? Thank you!
If you immediately work after graduating, you will likely be associating which means your income will be only a fraction of your production. The owner and your employer will always takes a big cut, since it is his practice. You are just "slave" labor, (not really, just kidding, - it just seems that way).

If instead, you open your own practice, then you will be borrowing lots of money plus starting a patient base from scratch ... so not only would you have large new debts, but likely a low initial income stream. According to the IRS, most start-up dental practices take about 5 years to break even.

In general, your best bet if you want to pay your loans off early is to look more at the savings side rather than income side, although both are important. In another thread I posted some ideas, listing the two biggest drains on income: (1) housing and (2) transportation costs. By conserving on those two expense areas, plus taking advantage of tax law to write off educational interest where possible (I believe a deduction was re-implemented a few years ago, but check first of course), you should be able to pay your loans off sooner than later.

Also, since you have not actually incurred that debt yet, consider working while in school, to essentially reduce your debt burden before it occurs. It's useful, although because of the limited time one can devote to it, limited in its overall effect.

Going to a state school as a resident rather than to a private school helps the most, however, since the costs may be half as much in a state school.

Combine some or all of those means of saving together, and you should have no problem paying off your loans sooner than later. I successfully pursued three of those savings areas, and I was able to pay off my school loans in just 1.5 years.
 

Daurang

10+ Year Member
Dec 6, 2006
1,358
225
Status
Dentist
According to the IRS, most start-up dental practices take about 5 years to break even.
Where do you get that figure? Everyone I know makes profit within 6 months. But if the IRS database have such a massive erroneous number, I'm glad let them keep it that way.
 

Beestieboy

Keep on keepin' on
10+ Year Member
Aug 27, 2005
195
0
41
Omaha NE
Status
Dental Student
Daurang, are you talking about a new dentist going and starting a new practice from scratch?

Hardly anyone has recommended to me that I go out and start my own practice right out of school. Many legit reasons for this including lack of knowledge about the "business" side of dentistry, needing to work up speed, CE needed to provide a wider range of treatments, and most of all the cost of opening your own practice with a large school debt and little to no savings to live off of is a scary situation to be in. Do you know recent graduates that have started from scratch and made it work?
 

pietrodds

10+ Year Member
Jan 6, 2008
180
1
Status
Dentist
the post is a freakin mess!!

Speaking strickly on my experience of 5 yrs out and many of my classmates, it's VERY appropriate to figure on about 100-120K in the first year or two and I would strongly encourage you to plan financially to make much less. You may indeed make more than that in which case you're well above the bell curve. I caution anyone making more than that to keep the ego in check the same way it's best to not go screaming around you scored the highest grade on an anatomy test. Crap happens, especially in private practice and that big salary can be taken away in a heartbeat in a variety of ways especially when you're not the owner... so count your blessings and be humble. The vast majority of jobs/associateships end up dissolving quicking in the real world and you may find your ass on the curb with no income... seen it happen all to often, including myself. It's very prudent to error on the side of conservative when guess-timating ones income after dental school. Performance in school is no indicator to the real world. Also, I met a few dentists who brag about their income only to find that I couldn't sleep at night knowing the kind of crap they pull with patients on a regular basis. I had a classmate who bragged about starting at $175K salary but later found out he was working in a practice where all fillings were placed without bands and anyone with crown coverage on their ins plan got a crown whether they needed it or not. Income is not the end-all of guaging one's own worth as a dentist... unfortunately, this is not just a dentist thing but prevalent throughout our society. With that said, a new dentist should factor in their loans+interest and live cheap the first two or three years out as hard as that is to do. SAVE FOR A RAINY DAY... because as a new dentist, you're gonna have them and when they come you're going to want to have a cushion to fall back on. Don't focus so much on paying debt off the first year or two unless it is very high interest debt such as CC debt which you shouldn't have anyways.
 

USCbiograd

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 6, 2007
194
4
Charleston, South Carolina
Status
Dental Student
I am still working on my bachelors degree in biology, but I am trying to think ahead. I want to pay of my dental school loans as fast as I can after I graduate. I think I will be in a practice with other dentists, at first. I don't know which dental school I will be attending or how much it will cost, so I know that it probably isn't possible to tell me exactly how long it will take me to take me to pay back my loans. I basically just want an estimate. I heard that most dentists have an average debt of $130,000 when they graduate from dental school. I will look for scholarships and other sources of income to avoid loans as much as possible.
If I use all of my earnings from my first year as a dentist, do you think that I will be able to pay almost all the loans off in that first year? Thank you!
$130,000 worth of debt seems to be an underestimate when considering rising tuition costs. I was told to expect to accrue $200,000 of debt to complete dental school at our orientation (I am a first year dental student attending my state university). I had around $50,000 worth of debt before entering school due to undergrad/graduate school. I was told that the students at my university usually pay their loans off in approximately 7 years. Expecting to pay all of your loans off in 1 year seems impossible, unless there is some sort of outside intervention (inheritance, wealthy family, hitting the lottery, etc.)

As far as looking for scholarships, they are essentially none existent in professional school, unless you are willing to commit to service in the armed forces/underprivileged areas. As to "....other sources of income" there are none, you will not have time to work (your school will be far to time demanding) and unless you have an abundance of priceless heirlooms to auction off, you might be out of luck.