One of the biggest obstacles that most people face when trying to advance their education is tuition. Making the initial investment is a very daunting ordeal for many individuals, even though enrolling in a dental assisting certification program, or any other vocational school for that matter, can offer some important career opportunities.
But how much does dental assistant school cost and is there any easier way of paying for it? Let’s go over the costs related to your training.
Dental assistant school cost
The cheaper approach is a dental assistant certification or diploma, which costs between $3,000 and $17,000, while getting an associate’s degree in dental assisting will be more expensive, at $6,000 to $32,000 or more. You can find dental assistant courses in a lot of community colleges, as well as several technical schools. Still, you’ll need to consider the additional costs related to obtaining the diploma for both of these programs. Among the most important extra expenses are:
- Registration fees
- Books and supplies
- Lab fees
- Certification exam fees
The time you’ll have to invest in becoming a dental assistant will also be influenced by whether you want to go for a diploma program or a degree program. So for example, if you want to go for a certificate program, you will spend under two years. An associate’s degree, on the other hand, will take two years to complete. There are considerable differences in curriculum between these two choices.
Whether you’re going to pursue any other specialization and whether you’re interested in a part-time program or a full-time one will also affect the time needed to get your certification or diploma.
Paying for dental assistant training
In full up front
The most straightforward way of paying to become a dental assistant is upfront, out of your own pocket, the whole sum needed to cover the program tuition, as well as any living expenses like rent and groceries, and the necessary supplies.
This method will help you avoid having to remember the monthly payments, you won’t need a credit check, and you won’t owe any interest, even though, on the downside, it will also be the highest upfront tuition cost.
As the cost of dental assistant programs can be considerable, between $15,000 and $30,000 to get a degree or certification, it would be better if you could land a grant or scholarship to help ease the tuition bill.
Interest-free recurring payments
If you’re unable to pay the tuition cost in full upfront and you can’t find a grant or scholarship for your individual situation, then you could look for other options, like dental assisting schools that offer tuition-free recurring payments or payment plans.
This will allow you as a student to reduce the upfront cost by paying several smaller amounts over a certain duration, sometimes even over the duration of the whole program.
As you won’t be faced with interest or credit checks, you’ll end up paying less than you would when getting a loan. On the downside, even if you will eventually pay less overall, you’ll be faced with higher monthly payments than in the case of a loan, as they are spread over a shorter period of time than loans or other financing options.
Programs that are sponsored by the government, like WIOA, or Workforce Innovation and Opportunity, are a great way of reducing the overall costs. These provide scholarships and grants for technical schools.
These will enable you to cover at least part of the full tuition amount for the dental assistant course. The best way to find the best options for your program is to get in touch with the school you’re considering directly.
If you want to make smaller monthly payments over a longer period of time instead of paying all upfront or having larger payments, then a student loan is probably the best choice for you. Private student loans will most probably be available even though not all dental assistant schools offer federal student loans.
You will probably have the option of immediate full repayment, interest-only deferral, or full deferral, depending on the loan terms available in your case.
Here are some things you should consider when figuring out the best payment method for you:
- As most loans have an interest rate, you’ll end up spending considerably more than the original tuition amount.
- This is a loan, so your credit score may be impacted, as your credit report will have to be pulled.
Final words on dental assistant program tuition
The cost of going to dental assistant school is anywhere between $3,000 and $32,000, depending on several factors like the school you want to attend, the type of certification or diploma you’re targeting, and so on.
You’ll have several payment options and the one you’re ultimately going to pick should be based on what works best for your specific situations. You can pay everything upfront and get this off your chest, you can pay higher monthly payments to pay smaller or no interest rates, or you can go for smaller monthly payments, stretch over a longer period of time, and ultimately pay more for the tuition.