AADSAS Application Advice Dental School Tips

How much does applying to dental school really cost?

bleeding-moneyI never realized how expensive applying to dental school actually was. In reality, there are quite a few expenses that people normally don’t account for when budgeting for the application cycle. Here is a quick breakdown of everything you should consider when applying to dental school. If you are applying while completing your 4-year university education, I highly recommend budgeting the following expenses into your student loans.


Expected Expenses

DAT – $385

  • The exam is required to apply to any US dental school
  • Expect to pay for prep materials (not included in calculation)

Opening an AADSAS application – $244 for first school

  • Applying to dental school in the US requires AADSAS with the exception of Texas schools. See miscellaneous section below.
  • First school fee can be waved via the Fee Assistance Program (FAP)
    • This takes a few weeks to process and is offered on a  first-come-first-serve policy. Apply as soon as AADSAS opens.

AADSAS fee for each school – $90 for each school after first

  • This fee is required for AADSAS to mail your application to each school.
  • Fee table

Secondary Fees – $60-100 for each school

Interviews ~$400+ per interview

  • Interviews can be expensive since they are often offered at such short notices.
  • Expect the following expenses:
    • Round-trip plane tickets
      • Although flying in the same day as your interview saves money, I always recommend that interviewees fly in the night before. There is too much unpredictability when flying in the same day. I have seen people miss interviews due to unexpected circumstances such as the LAX shooting in 2013.
      • Personally, one of my flights the night before was nearly cancelled (ended up being delayed for 3 hours). The flight after mine was cancelled altogether. This experience was highly stressful, but provided me with enough time to plan for alternate transportation if the flight was cancelled.
    • Hotel stay
      • Along with flying in the night before, a hotel room will put you at an ease of mind.
      • Use websites like to “bid” for a hotel if you are trying to save money.
    • Public transportation/taxi/rental
      • Taxi drivers have been known to take longer routes to destinations for people unfamiliar with the area. This is called “long-hauling”. Use a mapping application to know when you are being scammed.
    • Food
  • These expenses can easily equal $400+ dollars per interview

Deposit to Reserve a Seat – $1,000+

  • Deposits range from $1,000 and can reach upwards of $3,000 dollars.
    • Ask if the deposits are partially or fully refundable. I was able to recover $2,000.
  • People forfeit December deposits for an offer in spring. Leave yourself a bit of cash for this situation!


Example Expenses for Applying to 15 Schools

+$385 (DAT)

+$244 (AADSAS)

+$90 x 14 = $1260 (14 Additional Schools)

+$70 x 10 = $700 (10 Secondary Application Fees)

+$400 x 6 = $2,400 (6 Interviews Attended)

+$1,000 (1 Deposit)


Total: $5,989*

*That example above is using very conservative numbers. Actual expenses could be significantly more (or less) depending on the number of schools applied to and location of interviews attended.


Misc Expenses:

Transcripts ~$50-100

  • Expenses very per institution. Attending multiple schools will multiply your expenses (Community College, 4-year university, different university for summer school, etc.)
  • I mailed my transcript 4 times (5th in June)
    • 3 regular mail @ $17 (lost AADSAS transcript, AADSAS academic update, school specific update)
    • 1 express @ $37 (after my initial AADSAS transcript was lost)


TMDSAS (Texas Dental School Application System) – $140

  • Required if you plan to apply to Texas Dental Schools
  • One fee covers all 3 schools
  • No fee wavers


Certiphi Background Check ~$100

  • DO NOT pre-authorize the background check through AADSAS! Only half the schools mandate Certiphi (so far) and pre-authorizing it will not affect/improve your application in any way. This will not be reviewed until after a student accepts an offer.
  • An updated list of schools requiring Certiphi can be found here.
  • Background checks can cost up to $200 dollars depending on the number of counties you have lived in and your history.


CSS / Financial Aid PROFILE (CollegeBoard) – $25+

  • “FAFSA 2.0” mandated by some schools


Deposit on Housing – $1,000+

  • You may have to place a deposit on housing well before you receive your dental school financial aid.
  • Request your credit score in preparation.



I hope this helps put into perspective the expected costs while applying to dental school. Please plan ahead for these expenses and leave yourself a cushion for unexpected circumstances like switching programs.


If I neglected to mention any expenses you may have endued during this process let me know through Ask Elias and I would be more than happy to include them.


Upcoming DAT Biology Changes Pushed to 2015

Update (8/30/2014): Planned changes to the DAT Biology section have officially been suspended.

The ADA recently remodeled their website and as a result many of the links around our site are currently broken. In the effort of finding the new locations of these files, I have uncovered a presentation from March 17th, 2014. This presentation has a new slide that indicates the “test specifications” to the biology section of the DAT have been pushed to 2015. At the moment I cannot comment on what they mean by “test specifications”. Although the wording is a bit ambiguous, it also appears the Critical Thinking pilot test initially planned for 2014 has been pushed back to 2015.

For those that do not know, the ADA has been planning a few modifications to the DAT for several years now. The two changes affect the Quantitative Reasoning section in addition to the Biology section. The details regarding the changes have been summarized in the image below.


With the continued extensions, it is hard to say when pre-dental students should start adjusting studying strategies. For the moment, continue studying using the methods and resources mentioned in the DAT Strategies and Resources page.



AADSAS Application

What is the AADSAS Holistic Coversheet and how does it look?

As you fill out the AADSAS application, you will notice AADSAS will reference the “Holistic Cover Sheet” several times. Unfortunately, AADSAS does not explain very clearly what this Cover Sheet is and doesn’t let you view a sample until after you pay them thousands of dollars and can no longer revise your application. Searching the internet sheds no light on the AADSAS Coversheet other than the very basic AADSAS Holistic Cover Sheet FAQ page.

The ADEA AADSAS Holistic Coversheet is a new page to the application that is provided to your designated dental schools. The ADEA AADSAS Application Coversheet provides a quick reference to your application by displaying selected highlights of your background, experiences, and achievements as well as an outline of academic attainments. The coversheet promotes the concept of a holistic review which considers both qualitative and quantitative of your application.”

Think of this Coversheet as a resume displaying your most unique and important qualities that you feel make you a strong and competitive dental student. It is the first page on top of your application and has a purpose to convince the reader to invest time into the 15+ page application.

According to the ADA, not all applications are reviewed in their entirety so it is important to make this page count. In 2012, USC claims they reviewed all 3,411 applications while UCSF only reviewed 1,343 out of 1,907 applications (see table below).

UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC          3,289                        281                        144                165
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO          1,907                      1,343                        182                  88
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES          1,891                        158                        124                  88
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA          3,411                      3,411                        377                145
LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY          2,029                        471                        167                  96

Source: Survey of Dental Education Series, Report 2: Tuition, Admission and Attrition (Tab8b)



The left half of the coversheet is reserved for information generated by the AADSAS system. This includes basic information about you, your application, background, parents, degree(s), GPA, and DAT scores.

The right half is a “Mini-Resume” which can have up to 3 entries from the following sections (in order):

  • Awards, Honors, Scholarships
  • Dentistry Experience
  • Extracurricular/Volunteer/Community Service
  • Work Experience
  • Research Experience
  • Academic Enrichment


Please note, the “mini-resume” is not automatically generated and requires input or else the entire right hand side of your application will be blank.

To add experiences to the AADSAS Holistic Coversheet, visit the “Professional Experiences” tab on the application main page. You can mark up to 3 entries per section using the “Include On Coversheet” button which will appear on the right hand side of the page in the “Flag for PDF Coversheet” column.

Each section will include basic information about the experience including any position, total hours of commitment, and the duration of the experience. The number of hours of the 3 selected experiences will be totaled for each section. This number will not reflect the total number of hours of all your experiences in that section (which I personally think it should).

Below is a copy of my AADSAS Holistic Coversheet. Hopefully this clears up any ambiguity. If you have any questions feel free to ask them through Ask Elias.

AADSAS Holistic Coversheet


Happy application season!