Determining Eligibility & Types of Loans for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

The Financial Aid Office uses the following formula to determine eligibility for needs-based financial aid programs:

Student’s Cost of Education (Educational Budget)
– Parent Contribution (if applicable)
– Student Contribution
= Student’s Financial Need

The student’s educational budget or cost of attendance is based on the annual billed charges for tuition and fees and indirect costs associated with the student’s attendance such as living expenses, books, and supplies. Indirect costs are not billed by the school yet are considered part of the student’s cost of attendance thus financial aid can support those types of expenses. Note, however, that federal student financial aid regulations dictate what types of costs/expenses can be included in the student’s cost of attendance. To this end, the school does set a uniform living expense allowance for those living off-campus or with a parent or other relative (other than their spouse). Financial aid is meant to support the student’s costs associated with their attendance at TUSDM and is not meant to support the student’s spouse while enrolled. No student can receive financial aid more than their cost of attendance as determined by the school. Note that the living expense allowance is determined using a survey of currently enrolled students.

The student contribution (and that of their parents depending on the financial aid programs for which the student is applying) is based on the results of a federally mandated formula that considers student (and parent, if applicable) income from the prior year and the current value of their assets. The contribution figures are derived from the financial aid application materials the student (and parents, if applicable) is required to submit each year they intend to apply for financial aid. Students apply for financial aid annually. The information that is obtained from the annual application process will account for any changes in the family’s financial circumstances that may occur in any given year.

Parent contribution is only considered for programs that require a parent contribution to be used to determine eligibility. These programs include Tufts Loan, Tufts Grant, and Health Professions Student Loan (HSPL) and Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS). To determine eligibility for all other needs-based federal loan programs only the student contribution (as derived from their annual financial aid application materials) is used.

The student contribution can be “off set” with non-needs based financial aid programs. These include Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan and Grad PLUS loans as well as private education loans. As a result, qualified students are awarded funding up to their cost of attendance as determined by the school with the assistance of non-needs based student loan programs. Merit scholarship is not based on financial need, yet, if awarded, it is considered part of a student’s financial aid package as is any other institutional scholarship, grant or loan or those provided by an institution other than TUSDM.

Based on the analysis of the financial aid application materials the Federal Student Financial Aid applicant submits, the Financial Aid Office will provide a Financial Aid Award Notification Letter providing the recommended financial aid programs for which the student has qualified.

Financial Aid Programs for US Citizens and Permanent Residents

Students enrolled in the DMD or DIS programs who are US citizens or Permanent Residents of the United States can be considered for institutional needs-based grants and loans and other types of federal student loans. Postgraduate students who are US Citizens or Permanent Residents and who are enrolled in accredited post-graduate programs can be considered for federal student loans only to cover all or part of their yearly cost of education. Foreign students may apply for private education loans provided they have a qualified US Citizen or Permanent Resident act as co-borrower. Both foreign and domestic students can also qualify for merit-based financial aid.

Although students are considered independent from their parents by federal definition, certain types of federal and needs-based institutional grant and loan programs require parental financial information in order to determine eligibility. The following information provides a summary of the financial aid programs available to TUSDM students. Information on how to apply for the financial aid programs outlined in this section can be obtained in Financial Aid Application Forms and Cost of Attendance  for DMD and DIS Programs section of this website. Information as to how financial need is determined is provided in the section entitled Determining Financial Need above.

  • Merit Scholarship Program

    Merit scholarship awards are determined by the Office of Admissions at the time the student is accepted to the school. Continuing students are awarded merit scholarship based on their GPA and rank at the completion of their academic year. Recipients are determined by the Office of Enrollment Services and approved by the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Admissions. Scholarship amounts vary based on available funding and are determined by the Admissions Office and Office of Enrollment Services.

    Tufts Grant Program 

    Tufts Grant amounts vary based on funding levels and usually do not exceed $17,000. Tufts Grant is needs based and both parent and student financial information determines eligibility.

    Tufts Loan Program

    Tufts Loans are needs-based and both parent and student financial information determines eligibility.

    • Maximum Loan Amount – Varies based on funding levels but usually does not exceed $14,200
    • Interest Rate
      • 5% (Loans borrowed/disbursed on or after 7/1/2017)
    • No interest is charged while the student is enrolled or during 6-month post-enrollment grace period.
    • Deferments are available for up to 5 years for students participating in a post-graduate specialty program, an internship/residency, or a graduate fellowship. Interest will accrue during any post-enrollment deferment period. Any unpaid interest that accrues during such a period will capitalize onto the loan principal prior to repayment.
  • Health Professions Student Loan (HPSL) and the Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS)  

    HSPL and LDS awards are needs based, and federal statutes require that both student and parent financial information is used to determine eligibility.

    • Maximum Loan Amount – Varies based on funding levels but usually does not exceed $15,700.
    • Interest Rate – 5%
    • No interest accrues during the student’s in-school period, 12-month grace period which immediately follows graduation or withdrawal. No interest accrues during eligible deferment periods.
    • Deferment available (after expiration of 12-month grace period) for up to 3 years for those considered on active duty for the US Armed Forces or Peace Corps volunteer or while pursuing advanced professional training (unlimited time) or up to 2 years to pursue related professional educational activity or training fellowship.
    • Should the student be awarded HPSL or LDS, the student/borrower completes a promissory note directly with Tufts University.

    William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

    This loan is not a needs-based loan. Please note that graduate and professional students can no longer apply for the subsidized (needs-based) portion of Federal Direct Loans for a loan disbursed on or after 7/1/2012.

    • Maximum Loan Amount – $47,167
    • Maximum Loan Amount – prorated based on student’s academic year length which, for DMD/DIS, can vary between 7 months up to 12 months. Amount Range: $40,500 up to $47,167.  Post-graduate maximum is $20,500.
    • Interest Rate:
      • Loans borrowed on or after 7/1/2013: Based on Treasury Note + 3.6%; rate will remain fixed for life of loan; interest rate for loans borrowed between 7/1/2023 through 6/30/2024 = 7.05%
      • Origination Fee: 1.057% (through 9/30/2023)
      • For interest rates on loans borrowed before 7/1/2013, click here

    Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan Program

    Grad PLUS is not a needs-based loan however the borrower must maximize their annual Federal Direct Loan eligibility before applying for Grad PLUS.

    • Maximum Loan Amount – equal to the student’s annual cost of attendance less other financial aid.
    • Interest Rate:
      • Loans borrowed on or after 7/1/2013: Based on Treasury Note + 4.6%; rate will remain fixed for life of loan; interest rate for loans borrowed between 7/1/2023 through 6/30/2024 = 8.05%.
      • Origination Fee: 4.228% (through 9/30/2023)
      • For interest rates on loans borrowed before 7/1/2013, click here
  • Private education loans offered by private banks and other companies are credit based. Students who are US Citizens or Permanent Residents or foreign students can apply for private education loans as an alternative to borrowing federal student loans. Foreign students are required to provide a qualified US citizen or permanent resident co-signer. The loan’s approval and its interest rate will depend on the student’s and co-borrower’s credit history. Those applicants with strong, favorable credit histories and equally favorable credit scores will receive a more favorable interest rate and lower fees on their loan. Therefore, although students who are US citizens or permanent residents may not be required to provide a qualified co-signer, the student will most likely receive more favorable terms depending on their co-signer’s credit history and score.

    Although the Financial Aid Office has provided a list of loan options for borrowers, realize that students are not required to use any of these and can select to use any lender of their choice. Recognize that the terms lenders offer on their loan products can change at any point; therefore, it is best to visit the lender’s website for the most up-to-date information on their loan products. Keep in mind that not all private education loan lenders will allow foreign students to apply for their loans. Our list of options includes those lenders that currently enrolled students have used in recent years.

    The co-signer should realize that, when acting as a co-signer, their credit history and score are carefully reviewed by the lender. Upon the loan’s approval, the co-signer’s credit history is updated to reflect that they have co-signed a loan on the student’s behalf. The co-borrower is usually responsible for payment of the loan should the primary borrower (the student) not repay the loan for any reason. Both the student and co-borrower should carefully review the lender’s policies.

    Although borrowing a private education loan may provide a better interest rate and lower fees compared to federal student loans, students and co-signers should be aware that lenders have strict credit standards. Additionally, private education loans may not provide the same deferment and forbearance options or loan forgiveness that some of the federal loan repayment options currently have. Co-signers may not feel comfortable co-signing a loan depending on their own personal financial circumstances. For these reasons, foreign students are advised to have at least two qualified co-signers available to them when applying for a private education loan. The co-signers need to be “sustainable” meaning that they must be willing to act as a co-signer on the student’s behalf throughout the student’s expected enrollment as long as the student requires access to private education loans.

    We encourage students review the Guide to Supplemental Loans so they may make an informative choice before borrowing private education loans.

    Private Education Loan Options

    Discover Health Professions Loan – 877-728-3030

    Sallie Mae Dental School Loan – 855-756-5626

    Ascent Dental School Student Loan – 877-216-0876

    Citizens Bank Dental School Loan – 800-708-6684

    College Ave – 877-422-7502

    MPOWER Financing Student Loan  –
    While this loan does not require a co-signer for foreign students, this product is only available to students in the final two years of their academic program.

  • Return of Service (ROS) Scholarship Programs

    Return of Service programs usually involve a student being awarded a full-tuition scholarship and living stipend. In exchange for receipt of these funds, students will be required to work for the sponsoring organization post-graduation as outlined in their contractual agreement. The return of service commitment is usually 1:1: for every year that a student is funded, they will be expected to serve with that organization for one year after graduation. Most students sign-up for full four-year ROS programs, so that means they would have a four-year commitment after they graduate. The US Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and National Health Service Corps (NHSC) programs are the most common ROS programs amongst TUSDM dental students. 

    Return of Service scholarships, living stipends and indirect cost allowances funded by the organization are considered financial aid resources, therefore they must be included in a student’s financial aid package. Students are obligated to immediately inform the Financial Aid Office of any outside scholarship awarded to them. The school is not notified of newly accepted HPSP and NHSC scholarship recipients until after the academic year has started. This may result in the Financial Aid Office making required revisions to a student’s financial aid awards based on a change in their eligibility which would involve reducing and/or canceling processed financial aid awards to make room for the scholarship, gross living stipend and indirect cost allowance. If a student has already received their eRefund for the semester and they are accepted to HPSP or NHSC, they must be prepared to return all or a portion of their refund as they may have received funds they are not longer eligible to keep.

    Learn more here.

    US Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) 

    The Military HPSP will cover 100% of a student’s tuition and fees and provide a monthly living expense stipend for each year that an accepted student participates in the program. Reimbursement for required books and supplies is also available. A minimum three-year commitment is required. Students who participate in this program are usually stationed on a base after they graduate.   

    Information on various military branches that offer HPSP benefits is available on the following websites: 

    Air Force 

    • Army – Army Medical Scholarships


    Applications for HPSP should be submitted directly to the military branch of your choice.  

    National Health Service Corps Scholarship (NHSC) 

    NHSC will cover 100% of a participant’s tuition and fees, as well as provide them with a monthly living stipend. An allowance for required books and supplies is also available. The NHSC requires a minimum two-year commitment, though three- and four-year participants are strongly preferred. Students participating in this program work at an NHSC-approved site post-graduation, usually in an underserved, rural area.  

    Additional information on the NHSC Scholarship is available on this page.   

    Applications for the NHSC should be submitted directly to the NHSC, though there are components that require financial aid and registration certification.  

    Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program (MDSSP) 

    The MDSSP is an incentive-based program offered by the US National Guard. Participants receive a monthly stipend in exchange for committing to a one-year service obligation for every six months the stipend is received. There is no tuition scholarship portion of the MDSSP. Limited post-graduate student opportunities are available on a case-by-case basis. Service obligation begins immediately upon graduation. 

    Information on this program is available here. Applications for the MDSSP should be submitted directly to the National Guard.