Student Loan Contract Analysis Service launches
The ADA is helping dental students reduce some of the guesswork associated with student loans through a new Student Loan Contract Analysis Service.
An ADA House of Delegates initiative, the analysis service is detailed on ADA.org under Dental Student Finances and Career Planning (www.ada.org/105.aspx).
"Dental students are capable of understanding student loan contracts, but it can be a time-consuming process," said Corwyn Hopke, president of the American Student Dental Association. "This service should relieve a huge burden faced by students."
ADA enhances contract services for members
The Student Loan Contract Analysis Service is the second contract analysis benefit the ADA is offering to members.
For many years, the ADA has provided the Contract Analysis Service, which analyzes third-party contracts—including contracts from managed care companies—to inform members in clear language about the provisions of the contracts so they can make informed decisions about the implications of participation.
The service is available free through state dental societies. For more information, see www.ada.org/1308.aspx.
Last fall, the House passed Resolution 35H-2009 which called for the ADA to perform student loan contract analysis as a member benefit "and help inform the students about the content of the contracts at the request of an ASDA chapter or a postdoctoral direct member, or a predoctoral student accepted into a dental school program."
Reports show that dental students are taking on more educational debt than ever before. According to the American Dental Education Association's Survey of Dental School Seniors, 2009 Graduating Class, the level of student debt upon graduation has more than tripled since 1990. As a member benefit, the Student Loan Contract Analysis Service will help students make informed decisions as they shoulder that burden.
How to take advantage of student contract analysis
There are two ways for students to sign up for the new Student Loan Contract Analysis Service:
Incoming predoctoral students accepted into a dental school program but not yet an ADA/ASDA member because it's too early in the membership cycle may contact the ADA directly to sign up.
To conduct the analysis, the ADA will need a copy of the student loan contract and the student's phone number, e-mail or mailing address. Predoctoral students who have not begun school should submit proof that they have been accepted into a dental school program. Postdoctoral students should submit their ADA membership number.
The contract should not contain the student's personal information or be signed by any of the parties. Signed contracts are not eligible for this service. If a student's personal information is contained in the original contract, the information should be stricken from the copy prior to sending to the ADA, or the student can send a blank form of the contract.
Neither the ADA nor ASDA will disclose information to any third parties, except as may be required by law or legal process. To protect security, students should not provide personal or confidential information.
"Everyone knows that the educational process of becoming a dentist is quite expensive and the level of debt upon graduation is immense," he continued. "By obtaining information from our legal experts and having another set of eyes looking at the loan contracts, it will enable the students to make the best decisions."
The service provides students with a written analysis of their student loan contracts with the provisions of the contract explained in clear language. However, only contracts that have not yet been executed or signed are eligible for analysis.
Federal and private student loans contracts can be analyzed. With federal loans, the analysis will contain a description of the material terms of the contract. For private loans, the ADA may also flag certain terms for the student’s consideration.
Students will ultimately make the decision on whether any terms should be negotiated with the issuing bank or institution and handles that process.
"This is a wonderful tool that allows future professionals in dentistry to see the value in being a member of the ADA," said Dr. Buckenheimer.
Students should note that the ADA's written analysis is for general information purposes and is not a substitute for legal advice. Nor is the information provided an opinion on the merits of the student loan contract. Decisions about entering an agreement ultimately must be made by students.