There are 3 of things that could be missing and are not being considered from the basis of your $400k threshold:
1. All current and “known” tuition and cost of attendance fees are only good for 12 months. After that, tuition and cost will go up each year at every dental school - and that cost is “unknown” until it’s “known”. Specially if you are a pre-dent, you have many “unknown” years in cost of d school ahead of you. Even during dental school, you could still not know what your sophomore, junior and senior years cost would look like. You can certainly estimate, but you could easily find yourself well above your threshold too, unless you focused on the 7 cheapest of the 14 programs that you wish to apply, and you apply them now (in 2020-2021 cycle)..
2. Even if you graduate with $400k in student loans, which would be viewed as a good level of debt in terms of 5 years from now, you can’t rule out the possibility of specializing or 1 yr in GPR/AEGD residency in your future. Unless you are completely set on general dentistry, and want to work straight out of school, you could easily be looking at an additional $400k plus interest in ortho, perio, Endo residency cost 7-8 yrs from now. Most Pedo and all OS residencies would pay you with no additional debt, but you are just leaving a lot of “unknown” options up in the air as a pre-dent. So you could be looking at least $750-900k in student loans from pre-dent level to specialist level, if you applied and got in somewhere this year. The interest on the loans during school and residency are usually what balloons the debt quickly.
3. Assuming you graduated from DS as a general dentist and wasted no time to see your first patient, and with $400k under your belt, the question you should be asking yourself “today” should be - “how much will my monthly student loan repayments take a bite out of my monthly net take home income?”. Skipping all the long calculations (single status taxes, cost of living, etc), your net take home during your first yr, 2nd and probably 3rd yr of an associate position in an urban area will likely be close to $7k a month. If you choose the longest student loan repayment plan, your monthly payments will be about $3k a month. So you will be left with about $4k a month for rent, utilities, health insurance, car, etc. And with the historically stagnant income of a new dentist, that $4k/month today will feel like about $3k a month in 5-6 yrs as a new dentist - because of inflation, a concept that applies to everyone that makes an income.
If you understand the above 3 factors before applying and accepting a dental school, you are well ahead of your pre-dental peers in your decision making process.
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