Dental hygiene school takes a lot of time, work, and money, but finding the right financial aid can help ease the stress. Most dental hygiene programs require students to take classes full time. With lab equipment costs and textbooks on top of tuition, payments add up. Fortunately, many forms of dental school financial aid exist: scholarships, grants, loans and other payment plans out there for dental hygiene students. Discover ways to request financial help from private institutions, state or federal government education assistance programs, and colleges themselves.
Extra Expenses for Dental Hygiene Students
Dental school tuition is costly, especially for students attending college outside their home state. The following list details some unavoidable dental education expenses, though there may be dental hygienist scholarships to help pay these fees or materials costs.
Books and Dental Equipment
Medical textbooks, though expensive, may be available for e-readers for much less than the cost of hard-copy books. While programs provide the larger equipment that students work with, learners may be responsible for their own smaller tools. Private hygienist scholarships can apply to textbooks and tools; college scholarships may or may not.
Licensure Exam Fees
Dental college graduates will have to pass the National Board Dental Examinations and a state or regional exam. These fees range from a few hundred to a thousand dollars out-of-pocket.
Medical and dental students take many classes that require lab work. Programs charge students a fee for using a laboratory, in order to maintain the quality of the equipment. Dental school financial aid may apply to these fees.
Medical Liability Fees
Graduate students who practice as part of a college's clinic may need to pay liability fees to the school because they are engaging with patients in a medical setting. College financial aid may apply to these fees.
Dental Hygiene Financial Aid and Scholarship List
Plenty of scholarships exist just for dental hygiene students. Scholarships are essentially free money that never needs to be repaid, making this financial aid opportunity the first stop when looking for funding.
National Private Financial Aid and Scholarships
$2,500 for tuition and fees, $500 for travel to the ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition
The American Dental Education Association awards scholarships to two dental hygiene students pursuing either a baccalaureate or graduate degree in dental hygiene, and who show interest in an academic career. Applicants must be enrolled as either part- or full-time students at an ADEA Member institution, and must be ADEA individual members.
$5,000 for tuition and fees, $500 for travel to the ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition
The American Dental Education Association provides scholarships supporting two predoctoral dental students who exhibit strong commitments to becoming dental educators. Applicants must be enrolled in a degree program at an ADEA-member institution and must be ADEA individual members.
This scholarship through the American Dental Education Association and GlaxoSmithKline supports 12 predoctoral dental students who demonstrate academic excellence in preventative dentistry. Applicants must be enrolled as full-time students in a dental school in the U.S. or Canada, be nominated by their dental school's dean or dean's designate, possess stellar academic records, and be ADEA individual members.
For dental residency students who plan to advance their scientific and applied clinical knowledge in dentistry to aid and support the Hispanic community. Applicants need either an undergraduate or graduate degree in oral health, and to be members of the Hispanic Dental Association or Hispanic Student Dental Association either accepted or enrolled in an accredited residency. Applications due July 1.
$100 to $1,000
Deserving pre-dental students are eligible for this tiered award, granting four students a prize between $100 and $1000 in scholarships annually. Applicants must be enrolled full-time, seeking to work in dentistry, and be at least a junior in college. Students must submit a one- to two-page essay describing financial need, academic merit and community service, a resume, DAT score report, a photo or video, and their college transcript. The deadline to apply is September 30.
$5,000 - $25,000
Full-time U.S. dental students in excellent academic standing who demonstrate financial need qualify for either the top prize of $25,000, to be one of three applicants who win $10,000, or one of up to 10 applicants to take home $5,000. Students must show interest in community service and receive their dean's nomination. Schools may nominate only one student.
Regional Private Financial Aid and Scholarships
The Foundation for the Carolinas provides financial assistance to single mothers over age 25 who are legal residents of North or South Carolina. Applicants should be full-time students at an accredited North or South Carolina institution, seeking either a four-year undergraduate degree, a two-year nursing degree, or a two-year degree through the CPCC health careers program.
This foundation provides scholarship assistance to medical and dental students who reside in St. Lucie County, Florida, with preferential consideration for students intending to return to St. Lucie after graduation. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited program full time and have a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Scholarships can be renewed for up to three years if required GPA holds. Applications close in June.
Shelby County, Ohio's community foundation provides two scholarships for Shelby County students with a minimum grade point average of 2.75 who wish to pursue a certificate or an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree in medical and health professions. Selections are based on financial need, academic success, community and school service, and recommendation letters. Applications close in June.
A Hawai'i resident may apply for this scholarship if they are a full-time undergraduate student attending a two- or four-year, accredited, not-for-profit dental hygiene or dental assisting program. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA. Applications must be completed by the end of January.
$1,000 to $5,000
The Maryland Higher Education Commission awards a Maryland resident attending certain Maryland colleges as a part- or full-time graduate student in dentistry, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or social work. Applicants must file a FAFSA for every year they wish to receive the award, which is renewable up to eight semesters. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and satisfactory academic progress.
The University of Colorado provides two current Black dental school students with scholarships. Applicants must be enrolled in the University of Colorado's School of Dental Medicine. The application deadline is in March.
General Medical Financial Aid and Scholarships
The Association on American Indian Affairs dispenses this one-year scholarship for undergraduate or graduate students who are health and science majors. Applicants must be enrolled within a tribe in the Continental U.S. or Alaska, have a 2.5 GPA and attend an accredited institution as full-time students. Applications reopen February 2022.
This scholarship through the Association on American Indian Affairs supports full-time graduate students seeking a higher degree in art, law, or public health. Applicants must be a member of a U.S. tribe, have a 2.5 GPA and attend an accredited institution. Applications reopen in February.
The United States Military offers scholarships that cover all direct educational costs and provide a monthly stipend for medical students. Applicants commit to one year of active duty service for each year they receive this scholarship, with a minimum commitment dependent on their field they study. Each branch's website hosts their specific scholarship information, but the above HPSP hub consolidates the list.
$1000 to $5,000
Provided to outstanding medical and dental students in need of financial assistance, the CAMS Scholarship Program awards three to five students $1,000 standard scholarships each year. An additional $5,000 scholarship is also awarded to three students. Applicants must be currently working towards a degree, in their first, second or third year of medical or dental school. Students must submit their current curriculum, a copy of their latest 1040 tax return, two signed letters of recommendation, and an academic verification letter from their dean. Applications close in March.
The HRSA funds accredited participating schools with need-based scholarships to full-time students from disadvantaged backgrounds pursuing careers in health professions. Applicants must fit economic status requirements defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This foundation provides scholarships based on academic excellence and financial need to Black high school seniors pursuing careers in healthcare. Applicants must attend a two- or four-year university or technical school. Applications close in April.
This scholarship assists in funding tuition. Applicants must have verifiable Native Hawaiian ancestry, be full-time students, and agree to practice in Hawai'i for a year of service for each year of funding. The application period opens in December and closes in March.
The National Health Service Corps awards scholarships to students pursuing primary healthcare professions. Recipients must agree to provide one year of healthcare service to an underserved American community following graduation and training for each year of financial support provided by this scholarship, with a minimum two-year commitment.
This national scholarship is aimed at students pursuing careers in healthcare industries and are enrolled full-time in graduate level dental, medical, nursing, pharmacy, public health and policy schools. Non-Hispanic students with an affinity for healthcare in Hispanic communities and who participate in NHHF Scholars Alumni activities may apply. The deadline is September.
$5,000 to $10,000
Current college students pursuing healthcare careers can apply for one of these 35 non-renewable scholarships. Selections are based on college GPA, academic records in health education, community involvement, and volunteer service. Applications close in July.
$2,000 to $5,000
The Zonta Club supports women pursuing a bachelor's degree in a variety of fields, including healthcare. Applicants pursuing dental careers must attend dental school at one of the institutions listed as part of this scholarship. Applicants must maintain a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need. The application period runs from January to March.
Membership and Special Interest Scholarships
Many dental hygiene scholarships are offered through membership sites or special interest groups, such as the American Dental Association or Hispanic Dental Association. Students must be members of the organization to apply for these scholarships.
ADA Foundation Predoctoral Dental Student Scholarships
This scholarship assists twenty-five predoctoral dental students with their education expenses per year. An American Dental Association-accredited school nominates one full-time student in their second year of study who has a minimum 3.25 GPA.
ADHA/Colgate "Bright Smiles, Bright Futures" Minority Scholarships
Two scholarships are awarded through the Institute of Oral Health to members of minority groups currently underrepresented in dental hygiene programs at the certificate or associate educational level. Board members may not apply. Applications open in the fall.
Sponsored by Procter & Gamble, two Institute of Oral Health scholarships are awarded to applicants at the bachelor's degree level who seek academic careers. Applications open in the fall.
$1,000 in Instrumentation
American Dental Hygienists' Association-affiliated dental hygiene students may apply. Applicants must maintain a 3.0 GPA and be pursuing an associate or bachelor's level education. Applications open in the fall.
This scholarship is awarded to one student pursuing a graduate degree in dental hygiene or a related field per year. Applicants must be professional or student members of the American Dental Hygienists' Association. Applications open in the fall.
This scholarship is for associate, bachelor's, or degree completion program students who display a commitment to improving oral health within the geriatric population, and hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Applications open in the fall and must be accompanied by an essay.
The Institute for Oral Health awards two scholarships for students pursuing a bachelor's degree and three scholarships to students pursuing a certificate or associate degree. Applications open in the fall.
Three scholarships from the Institute for Oral Health assist outstanding students, either a potential future member of Sigma Phi Alpha or a current member in good standing, who are pursuing a graduate degree in dental hygiene or a related field. Graduate scholarship applicants must be professional or student members of the American Dental Hygienists' Association, must have a 3.5 GPA to enter.
Alice Hinchcliffe Williams, RDH, MS Graduate Merit Scholarship
This scholarship is for a part- or full-time dental hygienist pursuing a graduate degree in dental hygiene or taking accredited degree studies related to dental hygiene. Applicants must possess an active dental license and reside in Virginia, though they need not attend school in Virginia. Applications open in the fall.
Carol Bauhs Benson Scholarship
This scholarship offered through the Institute for Oral Health is for students pursuing an associate degree or certificate in dental hygiene or a related field and who reside in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin. Applications close in February.
Cora Aguda Manayan Fund
Filipino Hawaii residents may apply for this scholarship through the Hawai'i Community Foundation if they are full-time graduate students attending a two- or four-year accredited institution in Hawaii and majoring in a health-related field. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Applications close in February.
Dr. Hans and Clara Zimmerman Foundation Health Scholarships
Residents of Hawaii may apply for these scholarships through the Hawai'i Community Foundation if they are full-time college seniors or graduate students attending an accredited four-year college and majoring in a health-related field. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
The Hawai'i Community Foundation provides this scholarship for residents of Hawaii who are full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in a health-related field, attending an accredited two- or four-year institution. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applications are due in February.
Hispanic Dental Association Foundation Scholarship
This scholarship offers up to six awards every year, some restricted by applicant year of study, others by specialization. Recipients must attend the Hispanic Dental Association's regional conference to accept the award.
Indian Health Services Pre-Graduate Scholarship
This scholarship through IHS covers tuition, fees, required materials and provides a monthly stipend for American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduate students who are members or descendants of federally recognized, state recognized or terminated tribes. Applicants must pursue a bachelor's degree in a health field needed by American Indian health programs, maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA, and commit to continuing education in their health profession program.
Indian Health Services Health Professions Scholarship
The IHS covers tuition, fees and required materials, and also provides a monthly stipend for American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduate and graduate students who are members of federally recognized tribes. Applicants must pursue higher education in a field needed by American Indian health programs, maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and commit to a minimum two-year full-time clinical practice at an Indian health facility upon graduation.
NDHA Albreta Merritt Scholarship
Up to $1,000 for Undergraduates or $2,500 for Graduate Students
A runner-up scholarship for any of the NDHA scholarships listed below, awarded to the next highest-scoring student in each category.
NDHA First & Second Year Student Scholarships
Up to $1,000
For one first and one second year student enrolled in an accredited dental hygiene program per year. Students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher, be a U.S. citizen and member of the NDHA, submit two letters of recommendation, establish financial need, and write an essay detailing leadership skills, community service and future goals. Application closes in April.
NDHA Graduate Scholarship
Up to $2,500
Open to a student who has held NDHA membership for at least three years, who graduated from a CODA accredited dental hygiene program and possesses an active dental license. Application requirements include a 3.0 or higher GPA, U.S. citizenship, proof of enrollment in a fully accredited master's or doctoral program in dental administration, education, science, leadership or public health. Applicants must also demonstrate financial need and submit an essay. Application closes in April.
NDHA Non-Traditional Student Scholarship
Up to $1,000
For students who have completed another degree program and are returning to or enrolling in an accredited dental hygiene school. Open to first and second year students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher who are U.S. citizens and have two letters of recommendation, who can establish financial need and leadership, community service and future goals in an essay. Application closes in April.
Additional Aid for Dental Hygiene Students
While scholarships help reduce school costs and need not be repaid, they may get students only part of the way through college, or may cover only a small portion of tuition and fees. Learn about other options schools offer to ease funding frustrations, and how to request local grants or federal financial aid.
School Payment Plans
Some colleges offer payment plans that allow students to pay tuition in installments. Students may set up annual, semesterly, or monthly payment plans through their chosen school. While plans do not charge interest, there may be an enrollment fee, usually under $50 per installment. Students should check when payments are due, if interest accumulates and ask if there are startup or late fees for their college's school payment plan.
Dental students attending Marquette University can sign up for a monthly payment plan which allows students to pay tuition, fees, university housing, and/or meal charges in five equal monthly installments at no interest, though there is a $35 enrollment fee each semester. Students on financial aid may have to submit a budget before they receive their aid, but can adjust their monthly payments after they receive it. Payments may be made by check, money order, credit card or automatic charge.
Students attending Boston University may budget all or part of their academic payments in five equal monthly installments at no interest, though there is a $35 enrollment fee each semester, with other potential fees. There are also deferred payment plans for part-time students, but dental students are not eligible for these plans, as they are required to attend degree programs full-time.
Grants for Dental Hygiene Students
Another source of financial aid may come in the form of grants. These are typically need-based rather than merit-based, and can come from federal, state, or local government departments, corporations or local businesses and foundations, trusts, and non-profit groups. Some grants require repayment, while some do not.
This program helps Arkansas residents attend a few out-of-state accredited health and medical graduate or professional programs that are unavailable in Arkansas, including accredited dental schools. The grant allows students to pay in-state tuition, even though they are non-residents, or attend out of state colleges for reduced tuition. Applications are rolling and reviewed on a monthly basis.
These federal grants are for undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor's or professional degree and who have a clean criminal record. The amount awarded depends on a student's financial need, college costs, their status as a part- or full-time student and whether they attend school for a full academic year. Students can receive this grant for only twelve semesters or six years.
$100 to $4,000
Students must fill out a FAFSA to receive this federal grant. Priority goes to students who receive a Federal Pell Grant, with the most financial need. Not all schools accept this grant, and both the number of grants/amounts given depends on an individual school's available FSEOG funds.
This grant can be used to pay for educational and living expenses for Illinois dental school students. Funds are only available to students in good academic standing, and are awarded for up to four years. Applicants should establish financial need, provide a cost estimate analysis and send proof of dental school acceptance to be considered.
This grant is awarded to doctoral level students who propose a clinical training and research plan in specific health-related fields, including dental work, that will help lead to earning their doctoral degree. The award provides up to six years of support, consisting of stipends and money for tuition, fees and other eligible institutional allowances, such as disability accommodations, for fulfilling their research plan.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Usually offered through various large-scale employers as part of an incentive to continue employee education, reimbursement programs can be a way to pursue higher certification while already working. Check out the following examples of dental hygiene tuition reimbursement plans.
Up to $12,000
This conditional loan is provided to students who commit to work in a designated professional healthcare shortage area in New Mexico, including dental hygienists. For every year of service, up to $12,000 of the loan is forgiven, and if the full service obligation is met, 100% of the loan is eligible for forgiveness. Award amounts are assigned based on financial need.
The VA's tuition support program may be an option for dental hygiene students. Students in healthcare fields identified as VA shortage areas are eligible for school funding. VA jobs are appointed, and require a degree approved by the Council on Dental Education, American Dental Association, a license to practice in the state and at least one-year post-graduate training or equivalent.
Pacific Dental Services provides tuition reimbursement plans as part of their employee benefits package. Hygiene program graduates at a variety of levels committed to continuing their education in the dental field can apply, and employees must hold a degree or certification from an accredited dental college, technical school or the equivalent.
Anyone applying for federal financial aid should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. This application generates a statement of a student's financial need, then sends that report to the colleges a student listed, and the schools present a report of the financial aid they can offer a student: scholarships, grants, work-study, federal student loans, state government or college loans, and private loans.
$3,000 to $5,000
In New Mexico, the state offers a $3,000 tax credit to dental hygienists per year of licensed, full-time work. Work must be completed at a rural practice site in New Mexico, including private practices, community health clinics, IHS Tribal offices, and hospitals. Work can be split between multiple locations, but must total 2,080 hours of work per year to qualify for the maximum credit. Part-time workers can apply for a partial tax credit.