Academic Path to Success: Told by Dr. Allen

I received financial aid for all 11 years of post high school education. I paid for college, dental school, and orthodontic school numerous ways. I qualified for Pell grants, entered into random essay contests like a “woman’s auxiliary” loan contest (yes, not a typo) and a geriatric dentistry national essay contest scholarship (also, not a typo) to receive scholarship funds, applied for various international studies loans and received pediatric dentistry research grant stipends.

In addition to all of my tests, projects, and labs, I also worked 3 jobs synonymously throughout college and dental school. I got experience as a bike mechanic, served tables at a banquet hall and a restaurant, made orthodontic retainers and trimmed tooth models, sold educational and religious books, designed and sold t-shirts, acted as a research assistant, and there are more jobs, but I will spare you!

This exhausted list was belabored to inspire you to step up. Every single listing here took time in the financial aid office, time filling out the applications, time investigating which scholarships were least desired with less competition and greater reward, and which ones highlighted my talents and academic strengths.

I received in-state tuition at The University of North Carolina but at The University of Texas, I had to pay out of state tuition until I received an academic-based scholarship to qualify for in-state tuition. In the end and with all this said, I still graduated with nearly $200,000 in student loans.

Whether this academic school year marked the first day of school for your kindergartener or for your eleventh grader, it’s never too late to plan for college! Please visit to guide the way and take my advice: foster a relationship with a financial aid officer at your institution so that you get the best advice on college tuition options and gain a better understanding of the financial aid process!