e-mail Print Share

CAPIR looks at ways dental students can pay off loans

July 25, 2016

By Michelle Manchir


Standing up for dental students: Ways to help dental students pay off their student loans was the topic of a panel discussion during an ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations meeting in June. Panel members included (front, left, in black jacket) Dr. Brittany Dean, Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations member from the New Dentist Committee;  (center, front, in gray suit) Luis Padilla, M.D., associate administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration's Bureau of Health Workforce and director of the National Health Service Corps; and (right, center, white jacket) Ms. Susana Galvan, ADA manager of diversity and inclusion and outreach.
Dental students are graduating with unprecedented amounts of student loan debt. Based on American Dental Education Association data, the average dental school graduate in 2014 carried $247,227 in student loan debt, up from $221,000 in 2013.

With this in mind, the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations in June organized a dental loan repayment panel to review some of the options dental students have to receive assistance in paying off their educational debt.

"In the spirit of helping all of our members succeed, the Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations decided to assemble a panel of experts to help students understand the options that are available to them in dealing with the ever increasing educational loan burden," said Dr. Cesar Sabates, council chair.

The council's guests included Susana Galvan, ADA manager of diversity and inclusion and outreach; and Luis Padilla, M.D., associate administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration's Bureau of Health Workforce and director of the National Health Service Corps. Below is a summary of the presentations.

Bureau of Health Workforce

Dr. Padilla discussed the bureau's oral health programs that aim to increase U.S. patients' access to quality health care by developing, distributing and retaining a competent health work force.

The bureau offers financial assistance programs for students and clinicians.

In the 2017 fiscal year, the National Health Service Corps is expanding its Students to Service Program to provide up to 75 financial awards to dentists in their final year of school, Dr. Padilla said. That program will provide loan repayment up to $120,000 to dental students in their final year of school in exchange for service in underserved communities. The 2017 application cycle is scheduled to open August 16.

The National Health Service Corps also offers scholarships to full-time students pursing dentistry at accredited U.S. schools . The competitive scholarships include tuition, fees, books, supplies and a monthly living stipend. In exchange for those benefits, one year of service commitment is expected for each year of financial support, Dr. Padilla said.

Meanwhile, the service corps' loan repayment program, is available for, among other health care specialties, dentists and dental hygienists. It offers up to $50,000 for two years of full-time service.

For more information on these opportunities, visit www.nhsc.hrsa.gov or contact the NHSC Customer Care Center at 1-800-221-9393 or by email at GetHelp@hrsa.gov.

Military options

Ms. Galvan presented military options for dental school loan repayments.

The Health Professions Scholarship Program offers prospective military dentists a paid dental education in exchange for service as a commissioned officer. It covers 100 percent of the cost of dental school tuition, a monthly stipend to cover living expenses, and a $20,000 sign-on bonus. The active duty service obligation is one year of service for every year of receipt of scholarship.

Students currently enrolled in a civilian specialty program may qualify for the military's Financial Assistance Program, which offers $45,000 annually plus a monthly stipend of $2,200 to cover living expenses. For this option, one year of active duty is obligated for each year of participation plus one extra year upon completion of residency.

Each of the military branches, Army Dental Corps, Navy Dental Corps and Air Force Dental Corps, have their own  own requirements for service and benefits, including a loan repayment program (for Army only) and bonuses.

For more information on any of these programs, email Ms. Galvan, at galvans@ada.org.

ADA members may also be able to save money on their loans through an ADA-endorsed student loan refinancing offer through Darien Rowayton Bank.

Savings will vary as loans are granted based on a number of factors that are considered in any loan decision, including credit history, loan terms, income and total debt amount. For more information, visit student.drbank.com/ADA.