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Top 10: Ways to Save Money As A Dental Student

Dental school is a pricey proposition, and not many dental students are independently rich by any means. How can dental students save money throughout their four year journey? Go on and have a read, you might find something that can help you pinch those pennies! Most of everyone knows the basic ways of saving money, so here we're not going to give you the common ways of saving money, we're going to focus on ways that specifically dental students can use!

Top 10 Ways To Be Frugal As A Dental Student

1. Find roommates
Especially in larger and more expensive cities, finding roommates can save you a lot of cash over time. Not only do you split the rent, but you would also split the utilities, Internet, and other items that can all add up. In an ideal situation, fellow classmates should be roommates! The benefits are enormous. Not only do you save money, but fellow classmates can help you get up on time, help provide social support throughout those exam weeks, and much more. Since your schedules would correlate, they would be quiet during study crunch times, and they would be available to party when there isn't an exam in sight for some time to come! So how much money can this save you? A lot! I live in Boston, where rents can exceed $1000/month for studios, and I only pay $400/month, with 2 other roommates!

2. Scholarships, grants, free money
Find those websites, contact your Financial Aid office at your dental school, sign up, and apply as much as you can, to as many scholarships as you can! There is a lot of free money for dental students out there, and the more you apply, the more money you can get. It may be daunting to have to write essays for applications, but you have to have the tenacity to do it! Money for dental school is critical, especially since the tuition is so pricey, so don't let an essay or two get in your way. You should have enough training under your belt (from that year of English you took in college) to whip through these!

3. eBooks vs. paper textbooks
Although eBooks or digital textbooks are a popular option for dental students, we recommend buying paper textbooks, especially if your dental school forces you to buy textbooks. Most students never end up using textbooks, so paper textbooks can be re-sold at your will! eBooks like VitalSource, which a lot of dental schools are starting to offer are comparatively much more pricey because they can't be sold off to other students who want to get their hands on a textbook or two that you have! If your school doesn't force you to buy textbooks, that's all the better! Only buy what you need, and sell off textbooks quickly after you're done with them. You can try eBay and Amazon if you are having a hard time liquidating textbooks to other incoming students at your school. READ OUR WARNING about VitalSource and why you should not buy their digital textbooks.

4. Live as close as possible to school
This is an indirect way of saving a lot of money over time. If you are able to walk to school, you can save money on transportation costs right off of the bat. The other thing is, as a dental student, you quickly become busy on a daily basis, and a lot of dental students tend not to 'brown bag' their lunches after a while. Most try to at first, but time catches up to them, and most dental students who don't go home for lunch, tend to start buying lunches from the cafeteria everyday. This adds up! Being able to quickly walk home for lunch solves this bad habit of not packing your lunch. If you can walk home, make lunch, eat it, and head back to school after lunch on time, this is ideal! On top of that, you have an inherent advantage in other aspects, such as being able to collect forgotten instruments/documents at home, or being able to go and practice at school more frequently due to ready and convenient access.

5. Find a job? Earn some cash? Do it like only a dental student can!
It's hard to work and attend dental school at the same time, especially if you're trying to achieve good grades and plan to chase your dreams of specialization. You can earn money doing other things, such as participating in research studies at your dental school, or pawning off any gold crowns you've come across in your Oral Surgery rotations (with gold prices skyrocketing, this is totally a viable way to make cash - you should earn about $20 per pennyweight, or you're getting ripped off). Other ways to make money include working as a dental hygienist in your 3rd and 4th years. Consult your state dental legislation to see how to qualify. In some Northeastern states, a dental student simply needs to pass the periodontics section of the NERB exam to qualify to register as a dental hygienist. This can be done in 3rd year! Please leave comments below if you have other unique ways a dental student can save or earn money!

6. Cook your own food, most of the time...
It isn't as hard as it sounds, especially coming from me, a dental student who never had ANY cooking skills even a week before I started dental school. Use recipes online, or just stick to the basics. Easy meals include making pasta sauce by adding meat and other veggies, and then just adding it to the pasta of your choice. Stir-fries are simple and easy alongside rice. Sandwiches, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and salads are instant snacks that can keep you full all day. I highly recommend getting a George Foreman grill. You can make fish, pork chops, chicken breasts, and more quite easily! You can try a variety of marinades and sauces, and adding different veggies into your meals. This can be healthier than eating out all the time, and will save you a lot of money!

7. Partying, frugal style
I am notorious for being the cheap person who never buys drinks. I drink before leaving, and I carry a flask if I can! Drinks at bars and restaurants can add up quicker than some people imagine. On top of that, I don't go out to those fancy dental school sponsored gala's that can cost up to $60 for dinner and dancing. In fact, I rarely go out to places that even charge cover! Being frugal doesn't necessarily mean being totally anti-social. Most of everyone who go to dental school sponsored gala's and dinners end up at bars afterwards, and you can just join them there. Clubs and groups at dental schools usually have free entrance events regularly, and those are the best ones to attend!

8. Carry your student ID
Try to find places that accept your student ID for discounts. It's like a permanent coupon at some places around your campus, so this can be really useful for those days that you do decide to eat out!

9. Jump on piecework opportunities at your dental school
Dental schools occasionally need temporary workers to help administer large exams like the NERB or WREB, or to host large events like CE seminars and symposiums. These usually last for a day or two, and they pay you a set amount. It usually works as a first-come first-hired basis, so make sure to jump on these opportunities!

10. Attend as many Grand Rounds or Lunch and Learns as you can
Dental schools often have days where you are invited to attend a lecture or talk during lunch time or dinner time, and meals are served as a part of these talks. Even if you aren't interested in what is being said, go and eat for free! It might be rude, but if you're seriously not interested in what is being said, take your laptop and play some games or something while eating, but you might as well take advantage. Who knows, you might actually learn something while you're at it!

Have fun coming up with wild and wacky ways to save money in dental school! I know that my roommates/classmates and myself totally go out on a limb sometimes and do relatively weird things to save a buck or two! Let's hear what you've got to say, leave a comment with your tips to save $$$!


  1. I just wanted to say I love the site, the wit and the humor you guys are lending to much needed (and wanted) advice. Keep up the good work and good luck in school.

    Any commentary on schools that require beyond the normal pre-reqs?? (Like everyone starting to jump on the Biochem wagon, or Harvard and their unbending 2 semesters of Calc)

  2. Great posts. I just got accepted into BUGSDM for 2013! Where do you recommend living? I was told BU campus and take the shuttle over but I'd prefer to be closer. Whats the best option?


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