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Letters: Response to Dr. Sparkman

May 16, 2016 I'm writing in response to the "Dental School Debt" letter by Dr. John Sparkman in the April 18 issue of the ADA News.  While it's true that some students may live beyond their means, we can't ignore that the cost of dental education has risen dramatically since the 1970s and even in the past 20 years. Seniors were graduating with $84,000 in educational debt on average in 1996 and in 2014, the average was $247,000, and it's even higher for private institutions, according to the American Dental Education Association. ADA research also shows that debt payback length is rising, and dentist earnings appear to be stagnating. I certainly admire that you were able to work during school, but unfortunately, we find that this isn't feasible for many dental students with the schedules in place now.

I think we have an opportunity to come together as a profession on this issue. We should speak as a unified voice to support one another, help students to develop budgeting skills, educate dentists to manage debt, advocate for favorable borrowing terms in Washington, and work together to address the rising cost of dental education. Dentists from every generation must unite to advance the profession and help each other succeed.

Chris Hasty, D.M.D.
Chair, New Dentist Committee
Tifton, Georgia