Receiving a degree in dentistry is costly. In 2017, the average educational debt per graduating dental school senior was $287,331. Most dental students rely on federal student loans to finance their dental education. In 2017, nearly 67 percent of graduating dental students reported using Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans (Direct Loans) to pay for dental school and 65.1 percent utilized Federal Grad PLUS Loans. Any legislative proposals that would cut or eliminate federal loan programs would simply narrow the options that are available to dental students to finance their education.
Reducing the burden of higher interest rates and providing better repayment options for educational debt will make banks more open to loaning start-up funds for new dentists to open a dental practice. It will also remove barriers for those wanting to pursue careers in public service, teaching, research and administration. The ADA currently supports legislation that would provide better interest rates, deferment and repayment options, and improved loan forgiveness programs to students and dentists. These bills are the Resident Education Deferred Interest Act (H.R. 1554), the Student Loan Refinancing Act, the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act, and the Dental Loan Repayment Act (H.R. 996/S. 359).
The ADA supports numerous federal loan forgiveness and repayment options including, but not limited to, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, the National Health Service Corps’ Students to Service Program, the Faculty Loan Repayment Program and the Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program. The ADA will continue to advocate to fully fund these programs.
The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) are advocating that any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act include: lowering interest rates, allowing dental students to use federally subsidized loans, greater flexibility for refinancing loans, protecting loan forgiveness or repayment programs, and extending the period of deferments. Now is the time to make your voice heard. Use the link provided below to reach out to your legislators now–write, call, tweet your elected officials so they know where you stand on the issues.
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