What to know about financial supports for military dentists

Armed forces offer scholarship programs for dental school

Service: Members of the 72nd Dental Squadron — Airman 1st Class Joseph Zo (from left), dental technician; Heidy Perry, dental technician; and Capt. Jennifer A. Keegan, D.M.D., a new dentist stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma — prepare instruments prior to a root canal procedure at the base's veterinary clinic in March 2023. Air Force dentists perform dental work on military working dogs in the field. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force/Paul Shirk.

Capt. Jennifer A. Keegan, D.M.D., a general dentist stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, is clear about why she chose to pursue the Air Force Health Professions Scholarship.

“It allowed me to serve some of the greatest people in our country, our military,” said the new dentist, who graduated from the Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Glendale, Arizona, in 2021. “I love being able to treat our military members and genuinely do what is best for them. Most importantly, I make sure the military members on base are taken care of and are dentally ready to deploy at any time.”

Dr. Keegan has advice to dental students who might be considering the military.

“It is absolutely a great option to finance your education as well as get a unique opportunity that allows you to experience life through the military,” the Arizona native said. “I’ve also been much less stressed about finances and really get to focus on my job because the military has helped cover three years of my tuition. I would have over a half million dollars in student debt if it wasn’t for the Air Force.”


Air Force:

The Air Force Dental Corps currently acquires the overwhelming number of its new dentists via the Health Professions Scholarship Program. This program offers qualified applicants the opportunity to competitively apply for two-, three- and four-year scholarships to dental school. If accepted as a scholarship recipient, the member receives funds to cover all their tuition, books and fees for any school they have been accepted to attend. In addition, each scholarship recipient receives a monthly stipend of $2,608.


The Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program permits selected students to be commissioned as officers in the Army Reserve while in school and then transition to active duty upon graduation. While completing school, students receive a monthly stipend of more than $2,600 for more than 10 months each year. For the remaining months of the year, they will be on active duty for training and receive the pay and allowances of a second lieutenant. Tuition and certain other expenses will also be paid by the government. Qualifying dental students are also eligible to receive a $20,000 sign-on bonus.


Through the Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program, students could receive full tuition coverage for the cost of dental school and related expenses. Additionally, through the Health Services Collegiate Program, they could receive up to $269,000 while attending dental school to help cover the cost of tuition and expenses. For residents, the Financial Assistance Program offers potentially more than $275,000 during a dental residency, consisting of annual grants, monthly stipends and expense reimbursement. Practicing dentists can receive a sign-on bonus up to $300,000.

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