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Hi everyone, I need some advice. I really enjoy dentistry and was recently accepted to a private dental school this cycle (only acceptance so far). If I go I will take on at least $500 thousand in loans. However, as a backup plan in case I wasn’t accepted I also applied to some master/graduate programs that would push me towards a career as an academic advisor in education (another passion of mine and something I love doing). I was accepted into this graduate program and given a graduate assistantship position that will cover the entire cost of the masters program.

I love both of these careers and have a passion for both but I don’t know which choice is financially more stable for me. I don’t have a rich background and I had full scholarship and financial aid for undergrad so to take on a lot of debt terrifies me. I know dentists make a lot of money but from what I’ve heard and read the market is really saturated and paying off the debt is difficult too. What should I do? Which career/program makes more financial sense for me to do?
 

PerioDont

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Hi everyone, I need some advice. I really enjoy dentistry and was recently accepted to a private dental school this cycle (only acceptance so far). If I go I will take on at least $500 thousand in loans. However, as a backup plan in case I wasn’t accepted I also applied to some master/graduate programs that would push me towards a career as an academic advisor in education (another passion of mine and something I love doing). I was accepted into this graduate program and given a graduate assistantship position that will cover the entire cost of the masters program.

I love both of these careers and have a passion for both but I don’t know which choice is financially more stable for me. I don’t have a rich background and I had full scholarship and financial aid for undergrad so to take on a lot of debt terrifies me. I know dentists make a lot of money but from what I’ve heard and read the market is really saturated and paying off the debt is difficult too. What should I do? Which career/program makes more financial sense for me to do?
just based on this information, I would do the masters degree. some dentists can make a lot, but for most 500k in the hole will take years if not decades to get out of. best of luck to you in your future OP!
 
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vcl238

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Hi everyone, I need some advice. I really enjoy dentistry and was recently accepted to a private dental school this cycle (only acceptance so far). If I go I will take on at least $500 thousand in loans. However, as a backup plan in case I wasn’t accepted I also applied to some master/graduate programs that would push me towards a career as an academic advisor in education (another passion of mine and something I love doing). I was accepted into this graduate program and given a graduate assistantship position that will cover the entire cost of the masters program.

I love both of these careers and have a passion for both but I don’t know which choice is financially more stable for me. I don’t have a rich background and I had full scholarship and financial aid for undergrad so to take on a lot of debt terrifies me. I know dentists make a lot of money but from what I’ve heard and read the market is really saturated and paying off the debt is difficult too. What should I do? Which career/program makes more financial sense for me to do?
So glad you are giving this some thought. So many students take on debt without hesitation.

This is a difficult question to answer though. $500k is a lot of debt to carry (especially not including residency if you decide to continue on). There are so many factors that go into how much you will make as a dentist---if you are in a city vs. rural area, what specialty or GP etc, owner vs. associate etc. In all likelihood, you'll be making less when you first graduate and eventually earn more with time (you get more proficient) or when you own your own practice.

Another thing to consider though is what your future income potential will be as a academic advisor in education? Does this profession pay well? What is the earning cap? If you will be content with the future pay and you are happy with the work, then go to grad school. But if building wealth is your goal, it is a lot easier if your income potential is higher. Dental school will get you there, but taking $500k in debt to do so is not the best situation. I'm hoping you hear from a state school.

Let us know what you eventually decide!
 
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Saddleshoes

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The pay back on a $500K education is $3,300/month over 30 years --or-- $5,800/month over 10 years!!!!
Think about that a while.
--Do you really know what $500,000 is?
--Have you ever in your life had $1000 in one spot at one time?
--Do you know what it takes to generate $4000 (After Tax Dollars!) in a month for a year?
--What happens if you get sick or pregnant or injured or need to take a month off?
--Forget the passion. Forget the dream. Think about realty!
--When you get right down to it dentistry is JUST A JOB.
 
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oralcare123

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Only go into dentistry if you really like it. Even more if you plan on getting into a lot of debt, because this kind of mistake will cost you. Think not only about drill'n'fill, but also a nightmare patients/bosses
Take into consideration: your age, health, willingness to relocate and work in rural area with a better pay, ability/desire to get army/navy etc scholarships and desire to work in public dentistry to have your debt forgiven. You get the idea
 
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The pay back on a $500K education is $3,300/month over 30 years --or-- $5,800/month over 10 years!!!!
Think about that a while.
--Do you really know what $500,000 is?
--Have you ever in your life had $1000 in one spot at one time?
--Do you know what it takes to generate $4000 (After Tax Dollars!) in a month for a year?
--What happens if you get sick or pregnant or injured or need to take a month off?
--Forget the passion. Forget the dream. Think about realty!
--When you get right down to it dentistry is JUST A JOB.
So you think I should go for the masters instead?
 

Saddleshoes

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So you think I should go for the masters instead?
Only you can answer that question.
For me, no way I would do the dentist route for $500K.
---(This is coming from an old dentist that has had a great career too!)
 
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If you plan to work for someone else as an associate dentist making $150k or less/year for the rest of your life, then you shouldn’t take out $500k loan for your dental school education. You will be miserable paying back these loans. By the time you turn 65, you won’t be able to save anything for your retirement. But if you want to make more money (at least $250k/year) by opening your own office like many successful dentist owners on this thread (Dentist Salary Compilation), then $500k debt is much more manageable. Having an extra 100k per year allows you to do many good things.....paying down the debts faster, investing to grow your money faster etc. Many of the dentists on this thread only work 4 or less days a week.
 
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Dreams have a price sometimes. If it is your dream to be a dentist, then realize that $500k is a lot of money, and as others have pointed out, difficult to pay back.

I see it as an opportunity to amortize your dream for the rest of your life making debt payments. You get one chance to live your life freely. Unfortunately, graduate and professional training has become a business, but if you have a sincere desire and passion, make the decision that will make you most happy. Contrarily, if you value finances as the be all end all, then you may not decide on attending dental school. At the end, it's your choice to decide.
 

Molar Whisperer

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Hi everyone, I need some advice. I really enjoy dentistry and was recently accepted to a private dental school this cycle (only acceptance so far). If I go I will take on at least $500 thousand in loans. However, as a backup plan in case I wasn’t accepted I also applied to some master/graduate programs that would push me towards a career as an academic advisor in education (another passion of mine and something I love doing). I was accepted into this graduate program and given a graduate assistantship position that will cover the entire cost of the masters program.

I love both of these careers and have a passion for both but I don’t know which choice is financially more stable for me. I don’t have a rich background and I had full scholarship and financial aid for undergrad so to take on a lot of debt terrifies me. I know dentists make a lot of money but from what I’ve heard and read the market is really saturated and paying off the debt is difficult too. What should I do? Which career/program makes more financial sense for me to do?

IMO, almost every Dental Student do not know what being a dentist is really like unless they have family members and/or close family friends who are dentists. They may think they know (like me) that dentistry is a very respectable profession and can make decent money. They may "understand" that being a dentist can be a struggle and that many desirable cities are getting oversaturated with like minded dentists. Dental students tend to shadow the established, successful dentists and think their lives are awesome and rosy. It's very hard to shadow the inexperienced and struggling dentists because not many like others to watch them have hard time or make themselves look not as skilled. You already "understand" the nightmares of astronomic student loans. You can consider NHSC, military, etc if it is right for you.

On the flip side, why settle for an uninspired job or even a job you hate? You can still fail or get fired from that job so why not take a risk on a job you want? Mark Manson gives good insights on "following your dreams/passion." There may be times people stumble upon their dream job/career by accident.
 
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yappy

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A third option is to relocate to a state and gain residence where dental education is much cheaper and reapply to dental school. As others have mentioned, you could go the military or public service route.

If you really like academic advising it sounds like that is viable career option; however, does it seem odd to you that you would be foregoing education in dentistry due to cost just to turn around and advise people in said-overpriced-education-industry? I think the education career is lower risk because you will not take out any debt and you enjoy the job. All else being equal I would go the advisor route.
 
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Eye-eye

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Also, if you do this, do it right. It requires some yearly paperwork. You can't just wait 10 years and then apply for forgiveness, as many dentists and docs have found out to their chagrin.
I am interested in working in the public sector and engaging in a loan forgiveness program but when do I apply for something like this? After I graduate?
 

Eye-eye

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I am interested in working in the public sector and engaging in a loan forgiveness program but when do I apply for something like this? After I graduate?
Yup! Once you're in year 4 and preparing to exit, talk to your fin aid guy and (s)he should be able to walk you through the repayment programs, PSLF, etc. I was actually referring to PSLF and not HPSP, which is the military option. That could be a good option too, if you're open to it. Lots of perks to the military route, but definite drawbacks, too, in terms of control over your career, where you live, etc. That one you can look into on acceptance, during school, or after graduating (slightly different program, but they offer some loan repayment after as well), whether you're in residency or want to go straight into practice. I've attached a free, publicly available book on loans and their repayment by a doc named Ben White. There's always a way to get the loans paid off. It's just a question of what you're willing to give up for it. Public service can be a win-win if you're somewhat interested in that already.
 

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P7898

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Academic advisor is the best decision for you because you are second guessing this decision right now.....

In all seriousness finically speaking, academic advisor if you can work your way into a higher education career and make decent money. Put that money into the market right away and work for a public institution where you can get a pension; you would beat a lot of dentists to retirement.
 
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PerioDont

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Academic advisor is the best decision for you because you are second guessing this decision right now.....

In all seriousness finically speaking, academic advisor if you can work your way into a higher education career and make decent money. Put that money into the market right away and work for a public institution where you can get a pension; you would beat a lot of dentists to retirement.
Agreed. If someone started at 18 or even at the age of 22 throwing 20k per year into a mutual fund, the growth would be so significant they would likely outpace most dentists.
 
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Agreed. If someone started at 18 or even at the age of 22 throwing 20k per year into a mutual fund, the growth would be so significant they would likely outpace most dentists.
As an advisor I wouldn’t be able to afford putting 20k away a year. I’m only 21 right now and would finish the masters at 22-23 in comparison to finishing dental school at 24-25
 

PerioDont

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As an advisor I wouldn’t be able to afford putting 20k away a year. I’m only 21 right now and would finish the masters at 22-23 in comparison to finishing dental school at 24-25
Let' say 5k a year. That will still put you in a great position. Especially since you will have no student debt. assuming you keep your lifestyle moderate, I think most people can sock away 5k.
 
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P7898

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As an advisor I wouldn’t be able to afford putting 20k away a year. I’m only 21 right now and would finish the masters at 22-23 in comparison to finishing dental school at 24-25
Could always pick up a side job and hustle until you work your way up in higher academia.
 
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