For this blog post, we will feature a Canadian who is attending an American Dental School and he will share a few pointers that you may find useful.

Each year, there are many Canadians left without an admission offer to a Canadian Dental School. This can be a very daunting experience, especially for those who have already used up their gap year after graduating school. Since time is valuable, many Canadians choose to apply to American Dental schools which can be very costly. For example, the University of Pennsylvania costs about $71,000+ USD/year ($92,000+ CAD/year) as of September 2016. Unfortunately, most American Dental Schools are this expensive, but there are ways to ease the burden of these massive expenses. The following are things that I have learned up to this point in Dental school that you may find useful, and as a result of it, I am not paying a penny out of my pocket to attend Dental School.

  1. Obtain a Higher Provincial Student Loan

If you attend an American Dental School, you are still eligible for your provincial student loans to help you pay off your tuition. So that means if you are an Ontario resident, you are still eligible to receive $10,000 CAD from OSAP. However, there are ways to obtain a higher provincial student loan legally. For example, if Bob lived in Ontario his entire life and moved to another province for a certain period of time before attending Dental School, he is eligible for that province’s student loans as long as he follows that province’s rules. Now consider this, British Columbia gives out $17,000 CAD/year ($68,000 CAD over 4 years of dental school) while Alberta gives out $41,000 CAD/year ($164,000 CAD over 4 years of dental school). By comparing these numbers to the relatively small quantity Ontario provides ($40,000), you can see the obvious advantages. I have personal done this during my gap year where I lived in Alberta for a year, and as a result I am not paying anything for Dental School out of my pocket since my Alberta provincial student loans provided me with $41,000 CAD/year in addition to bank loans that I received.

2.  Shop for a line of credit

There isn’t much of a secret here, you have to shop around and look for which banks offer you the most. The only difference between what the Canadian Banks have to offer is the maximum line of credit they give out (ranging from anywhere between 200k to 275k), how much you can take our per year, and the perks they give. Therefore, with the Alberta student loan (40k/year) and the line of credit (65k/year), I am getting 105k/year for my tuition fees and living expenses. This lifts a huge burden off your family financially by allowing them to live a normal life while you attend dental school. Keep in mind, the 105k/year is before any scholarships that you maybe eligble to recieve.

3. Scholarships

Don’t rely on these much because most scholarships are meant for Americans. However, some schools do offer scholarships to Canadians who do exceptionally well or come into Dental School with one of the highest GPA’s in their class. So it is something to be aware of when studying especially since some of these scholarships can be up to 5 figures large. Keep in mind, if you drop your performance you can lose your scholarships at any time.

4. Choosing the right school

Unless you want to specialize, the tuition fees and city that the school is located in will be a few of the biggest factors for you when choosing the right dental school. It is very important to be aware of the living cost around each dental school you will be choosing between since the living cost adds up. For example, my friend at NYU is now paying $2,700 CAD/month for a small room whereas a friend of mine at UDM is only paying $300 CAD/month. That is a $30,000 CAD difference each year and over 4 years that quickly becomes 6-figures. Even though NYU is a more respectable school, patients will not care what school you went to. On the contrary, if you want to specialize instead, it is best to choose a school that has a high proportion of students who specialize each year. These schools usually tend to be the more prestigious such as Columbia, UPenn, or Harvard. However, it is not the end of the world if you do not get into any of these schools because you can still specialize by attending any dental school and being at the top of your class. Keep in mind, specializing can be expensive for all the years of opportunity cost that go into it, so it’s best to be prepared financially if you choose this route.

5. Do well in Dental School and get involved

At my school, those who recieved A’s in specific courses are eligible to tutor students for $30USD/hour. The best part of these tutoring sessions is that most times students do not show up since dental students tend to be more independent learners. However, this varies from school to school and some may pay more or less. In addition, by doing well and getting involved in the community, you are eligible for more scholarships each year which can help ease your financial burden.


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