If you are not sure what a pediatric dentist is, it is a specialty in the dentist profession. Pediatric dentists usually take care of the oral health of children. From infancy till teen years, pediatric dentists deal with teeth, gum, and mouth care. It might seem simple, but pediatric dentists need more communication skills than others because it is not easy to deal with kids. Besides, their impact on early childhood determines the future oral health of individuals. Sure, taking such a noble pursuit is not left without rewards. Usually, a pediatric dentist salary is higher. However, it is also not a piece of cake to become a pediatric dentist- the required education and experience takes a lot of money, and not surprisingly, lots of funds.
If you are driven with an inner passion for impacting kids’ healthcare, you might want to become a pediatric dentist. With this guide, we make sure that you achieve this goal without hurting your finances and leaving years of negative impact on your earnings.
After reading this article, you will be able to compare pediatric dentist salaries with required educational costs (and student loans) to determine if it is worth pursuing this field.
We answer the below questions throughout the guide:
- What are the benefits of student loans?
- How much debt is acceptable?
- How high is the pediatric dentist salary?
- What is the average pediatric dentist student debt level?
- Is it worth getting a pediatric dentist education with student loans?
- How to Get a Better Ratio?
- How to make debt repayment more affordable?
- Which student loans exist for pediatric dentists?
- What are the repayment/forgiveness options for pediatric dentists?
Before we start our guide, we would like to remind you that getting a student loan is a critical decision. You will be dealing with repayment for 10-30 years which brings lots of uncertainties for your future finances. Hence, before you make any decision, it is advisable to talk to debt experts, like those in Student Loans Resolved, who have years of experience with borrowers just like you. Make an informed decision to avoid debt struggles in the long run.
1. What are the Benefits of Student Loans?
People usually have a negative attitude toward debt. However, student loans are not harmful unless the borrower approaches them with irresponsibility. If you know your debt obligations and undertake a debt amount that fits your budget, your repayment will be simple. In return, you will get the education you have always dreamed of but lacked money.
In other words, student loans allow individuals who lack financial resources to get a decent education and improve living standards. Specifically, federal student loans require only a small interest rate and provide borrowers several repayment options. Therefore, repaying such student debt is most affordable for the borrowers.
2. How Much Debt is Acceptable?
One of the conditions of beneficial student debt is getting a loan that matches your financial conditions. Therefore, if you undertake a student loan that exceeds your future income level, embrace yourself for troubles.
But how to determine the optimal level of student debt? Experts usually use a concept called the student debt-to-income ratio to find how much debt you can get. This ratio compares your average student debt with the average future expected income level. The optimal rate for such a ratio is between 8-12%, which means if debt repayment takes 8-12% of your income, it will be affordable for you. Yet, the ratio can change depending on many external factors, such as family size, monthly expenses, etc.
Sure, this calculation involves some errors because you can never be 100% certain about your future income. However, it creates a rough scenario for your future loan repayment process. Therefore, it is better to make a decision with some calculation rather than none. We will apply this strategy to pediatric dentist salary and student debt in subsequent sections.
3. How High is the Pediatric Dentist Salary?
As mentioned, to calculate the optimal debt level, you need to know two basic elements- pediatric dentist student debt and salary level.
First, let’s start with the pediatric dentist salary. Pediatric dentists are usually well-paid. An entry-level dentist can earn on average around $180,000 per year. Such people need one to four years’ experience. More experienced dentists in their late careers can earn up to $250,000 yearly. In short, the total average pediatric dentist salary is thought to be around $200,000 per year.
Sure, the salary level changes based on your experience, qualifications, and location. For example, dentists in Philadelphia generally generate more income than those in other states. Besides, the lowest salaries are recorded in New York or Denver, according to PayScale.
4. What is the Average Pediatric Dentist Student Debt Level?
Let’s check how much student debt is usually generated to get a pediatric dentist degree. You can determine debt level considering the educational costs per year for your desired educational institution. Do not forget to add all education-related costs, including tuition fee, boarding, transport, expenses for books, supplies, equipment, etc.
According to the American Dental Education Association, the average educational debt for dental school graduates is around $350,000 and $270,000 for private and public institutions, respectively. Only 17% of graduates in 2020 had enough financial resources to get a degree without generating any student debt. It means there is a high chance that you will be one of the 80% of graduates who need a student loan to complete a dental school.
5. Is It Worth to Get Pediatric Dentist Education with Student Loans?
After determining the average pediatric dentist salary and student debt, the question remains whether it is worth it to get this degree. We will first calculate the student debt-to-income ratio to answer this question. Next, we will consider the strategies to make debt repayment easier for borrowers.
Let’s assume you want to get pediatric dentist education in a public institution. We previously noted that the total average debt for such school graduates is $270,000. Besides, we would assume that you will receive an entry-level salary – around $180,000 once you find a job. In such case, the ratio will be:
$270,000/4= $67,500 (Yearly Student Debt)
$67,500/ $180,000= 37.5%
How to Interpret the Student Debt-to-Income Ratio?
As you see, the student debt-to-income ratio is quite high compared to what experts think is acceptable (8-12%). However, such a high ratio does not indicate that you should not get a student loan for pediatric dentistry. Rather, it indicates that you should be careful and consider other factors to repay the debt without risks.
There exist several external factors that affect the way we interpret the ratio. For example, a professional might qualify for a loan forgiveness program. In such a case, you know that you can decrease the debt balance after a few years. Alternatively, we considered only an entry-level position. If you believe the entry-level positions have higher salaries in your location or your experience will qualify for a higher salary, then you can be content with the ratio.
Besides, keep in mind that there is research that confirms that a pediatric dentistry career can be financially viable considering loan repayment and faculty compensation models. You can check the research called “Academic Pediatric Dentistry is a Rewarding Financially Viable Career Path” in EBSCO information services.
6. How to Get a Better Ratio?
We previously calculated the student debt-to-income ratio and concluded that it is high unless you consider external factors. This ratio has two sides- debt and income- and playing with these elements can give you a better ratio.
Mathematically, if you increase your pediatric dentist salary or decrease debt amount, you will get a lower ratio.
You can qualify for a better pediatric dentist salary if you improve your qualifications. The basic qualification for pediatric dentistry is four years of dental school degree and additional two years of residency to get experience working with children/teens.
However, additional certifications, licenses, or international experience can make you more qualified. Check what is required for your profession and how to enhance your credentials to get a highly paid position. Besides, moving to different locations where pediatric dentists earn more can be a good idea.
On the other hand, you can decrease required student debt for a degree by financing with financial-aid programs other than loans. For example, scholarships and grants exist for dentists at the federal and state level. Check if you qualify any. Plus, getting a part-time job to finance expenses like books, supplies, or equipment will lower student debt.
7. How to Make Debt Repayment More Affordable?
Some small actions before and after taking the student loan can help you to repay the debt effectively even with a low pediatric dentist salary.
When you get a student loan, do your research and choose the cheapest option. Usually, Subsidized federal loans provide the lowest interest rate. Besides, get a loan in the amount that you need. If you receive more funds than what your educational costs require, return the excess rather than spending. In this way, you can avoid making unnecessary loan interest payments.
Additionally, federal loan borrowers qualify for several repayment options. You can choose the one that fits your finances. For example, if your pediatric dentist salary is low, you can enroll in Income-Driven Repayment plans.
Income-Driven plans consider your income level and family size to determine the monthly student loan payment amount. For example, if you earn a small salary, your monthly payments can be as low as $0. Make sure you communicate your financial concerns to your loan servicer. They can help you determine the best repayment strategy.
What about Private Student Loans?
Unfortunately, private student loan borrowers do not have many privileges as federal borrowers have. The repayment plans are usually limited; private borrowers can choose between a low fixed repayment, interest-only repayment, or interest plus principal repayment options. However, exact options depend on your lender.
Moreover, pediatric dentists with private loans would not qualify for any federal forgiveness programs.
Therefore, before you take a private loan, ensure you exhausted all your federal loan opportunities. Then, if it is unavoidable, choose the loans with caution; usually, low-interest private loans are desirable, but all loan terms should be carefully analyzed.
Additionally, you can benefit from student loan refinancing. This program allows borrowers to get a new, cheaper loan and use the money to pay out existing loan obligations. In this way, you save from interest payments and change the loan servicer if you were unsatisfied with customer service.
However, the right timing is important for refinancing. For example, if interest rates decline, it can be the right time to refinance. Otherwise, refinancing with the same interest rate or a loan with even higher interest would not make sense.
8. Which Student Loans Exist for Pediatric Dentists?
As mentioned before, if you want to get a student loan, you have to first compare your options. Getting expert help can also be helpful to determine the most affordable way of financing.
Generally speaking, federal student loans have lower interest rates. Direct subsidized loans are available for undergraduate students in need with 3.73% interest (it can change next year). Meanwhile, Direct unsubsidized loans are for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. It does not require the financial need to be proved, but its interest rate is higher- 5.28%. Additionally, you can get a Graduate PLUS loan for amounts not covered by other financial aid programs with 6.28%. A variation of this program- Parent PLUS loan- also exists, but it is for the parents of dependent undergraduate students.
In contrast, private student loans for pediatric dentist students have higher interest rates. For example, you can get a loan from Sallie Mae with a fixed APR between 3.50-12.6%, College Ave with 4.49-11.46%, or Citizens with 3.49-10.95%.
9. What are the Repayment/Forgiveness Options for Pediatric Dentists?
There exist some programs that can decrease your debt balance. In this way, even if your pediatric dentist salary is not high, you can repay the debt effortlessly.
HRSA Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program is one of the most beneficial programs to reduce debt obligations. This project aims to give people in underserved areas more access to oral healthcare professionals. Hence, dental and dental hygiene faculty in these areas can qualify for a loan repayment program covering up to $40,000 student debt.
Another program available to pediatric dentists is National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment. You can get up to $50,000 funds to repay your debt if you agree to serve two years full-time in one of the approved sites. NHSC approved sites are facilities where people lack access to oral healthcare professionals. Your pediatric dentist salary can be low, but the program is a great opportunity to get rid of some debt.
Besides, there exist many state-based loan forgiveness programs, such as the SHARP program in Alaska. You can check a comprehensive list of programs available to dentists on the official American Dental Association website.
Unfortunately, if you have private student loans, there is a high chance that you will not qualify for any student loan forgiveness program. This is because private lenders rarely provide such opportunities. Instead, they might forgive your debt only through total disability discharge or death discharge. In such a case, it is advisable to check the refinancing as we mentioned above.
Pediatric dentists have noble professions. They provide oral healthcare for patients till teenage years and ensure that kids will not have serious issues in the future.
This profession requires a degree that costs around $300,000. If you lack resources to finance your education, you can get student loans. In general, a pediatric dentist career is worth the debt with its high pediatric dentist salary and loan repayment programs. However, make sure you calculate your debt-to-income ratio and consider programs to lower the ratio.