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Student funding

This page summaries the main sources of funding available for dental students: student loans and NHS bursaries.

Student loan

For the first four years of a standard dental degree students have to apply for funding through the relevant student finance agency.

Student loans are available to help you pay for tuition fees and help with living costs. You might get extra money on top of this, for example if you’re on a low income, are disabled or have children.

Students need to apply to the student funding agency for the UK nation in which they usually live:


Student loan repayments

Student loan repayment amounts depend on when you took out your student loan and how much you earn.

The table below shows an indication of annual loan repayments based on the student finance system in England when earning the 2020/21 dental foundation training salary of £32,796. It also shows repayments when earning £60,200 - an illustrative example of an associate high street dentist's income. Depending on when you took out your loan, after 25 or 30 years, any unpaid debt is erased.


Course start date ​Repayment % ​Repayment threshold ​Annual repayment: earnings of £32,796Annual repayment: earnings of £60,200
​Before Sept 2012​9%​£19,884/year​£1,162.08 ​£3,628.44
​After Sept 2021 ​9% ​£27,288/year​£495.72​£2,962.08

NHS bursary

The NHS bursaries available to dental students varies depending on where in the UK you live.



NHS bursaries in England cover the fees for the fifth year on a five-year course. Depending on your year of entry, you may also be eligible for a means tested bursary to assist with living costs, or a non-means tested grant.

NHS bursary rules are complicated and will vary depending on the year of your course enrolment and where you live in the UK.

Undergraduate students

From the fifth year of the dental degree, those eligible for an NHS student bursary in England can apply for a bursary that covers tuition fees and provides additional support:


  • Dental students studying in London away from the parental home are eligible for a means-tested basic rate grant of up to £3,191 and a £1,000 non means-tested grant.

  • Those outside London and away from home are eligible for a means-tested basic rate grant of up to £2,643 and a £1,000 non means- tested grant.

  • Those living at the parental home are eligible for a means-tested basic rate grant of up to £2,207 and a £1,000 non means-tested grant.

Students on courses with an academic year longer than 30 weeks and 3 days may be entitled to an extra week allowance.

Those in receipt of the NHS bursary will be entitled to a lower student loan.

Graduates on an undergraduate dental course

Second degree or graduate-entry students will normally be eligible for reduced funding from the Student Loan Company. They should be eligible for the NHS bursary from year two of their degree.


Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, bursaries are administered by Student Finance Northern Ireland.


They are provided to dental students in their fifth year. The level received will depend on an assessment of your household income. Students will also be eligible to apply for a reduced non-means-tested maintenance loan. In the fifth year, tuition fees will also be covered as part of the bursary.



In Scotland, you can apply for the Dental Students Support Grant (DSSG), which provides a grant of £4,000. You can apply for the DSSG if you:


  • are enrolled on a BDS course at Aberdeen, Dundee or Glasgow university
  • have a household income under £34,000 per year
  • are allowed to live and work in Scotland after graduation.

Those in receipt of the DSSG will need to work for the NHS in Scotland for one year for each year they receive the grant. They must begin work within one year of graduation and have NHS earnings as 80 per cent of your income.

If you started your course in or before September 2016 then you can apply for the Dental Undergraduate Bursary Scheme, instead of the DSSG.



In Wales, dental students are able to apply for a bursary for the fifth year of their degree. For those on an accelerated four-year graduate entry degree, the bursary is available from the second year of the degree.

EU students

From 2021/22, the student finance arrangements for EU students will change. In general, EU students will no longer be eligible for home fee status nor will they be eligible for financial support from UK governments. However, those with pre-settled or settled status and who meet residency requirements may be eligible for home student status and financial support. Guidance has been prepared by Universities UK to provide more information for EU students.


Those who have started a degree prior to 2021/22 will continue to be eligible for home fee status and financial support.

Further information should be sought from the student support office from the country in which you are studying.


Non-EU students

Students from the rest of the world face higher fees and less financial support than domestic students. If the British Council has an office in your home country, you may be eligible for support.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs provides advice and information on funding and finance in the UK for international students.


If you are a Commonwealth citizen, you may be eligible for a Commonwealth Scholarship.
Advice and further information should be sought from the student support office from the country in which you are studying.


Other sources of information

The first place to seek advice should be the student advisory services at your university. They will have plenty of experience dealing with issues and whatever questions you have or support you need - they should be able to help.

If you study in England your university should have an agreement with the Office for Students which will mean that financial support could be available. The Office for Students holds up to date access agreements for universities which contain details of support available from each university.

Please note, our student finance pages are for general information and do not constitute financial advice. We are also not responsible for the content of external websites.