Health Professions Scholarship Program
The idea of dental school costs can be very daunting. Graduating with somewhere between a quarter to a half-million dollars in debt can give nightmares to even the most staunch optimist. Fortunately, for those so inclined, there are two programs available through the United States Department of Defense to help alleviate the costs. These two programs allow a dental student to receive benefits while in school, in exchange for 4 years of service in either the US Army, Navy, or Air Force. Please note that the Marine Corps is serviced by Navy medical officers, so the Navy dental officers serve both Sailors and Marines.
The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is a traditional military scholarship program. The full tuition and fees are paid to the school, and each candidate receives a living allowance stipend of approximately $2200. During school, the candidate has no military requirements other than attending the service-specific officer training, which is generally done either during one of the summer breaks are immediately upon graduation. Since the living allowance is not location-dependent, some candidates still take out some loans to cover the cost of living in the area of the school.
In the Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP), the candidate is enlisted in the armed services as an active duty member, holding the paygrade of E-6. Unlike the HPSP, no funding is applied directly to their tuition. Instead, candidates receive base pay, housing allowing, and sustenance (i.e. food) allowance. This will generally amount to an income of about $5,000 a month, or $60,000 annually, but is variable based on the marriage status of the candidate, the location of the school, and other factors. In addition, the candidate has full medical and dental insurance via Tricare, and each year in school counts as a year of Federal Service, which will increase base pay both during school and upon graduation. In exchange, the candidate is required to complete an annual physical exam, and physical fitness tests (per each service’s regulations). Although they receive this pay, most dental students will still take out some loans to cover tuition, as the annual pay is generally not enough, not to mention the need to pay for housing and other expenses during school.
Each of the armed services has their own quotas and application process, so an applicant must apply to each service individually. In order to apply for either program, contact your local Officer Recruiter for the branch of service you are interested in.