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Organized dentistry asks Congress to support student loan reform

April 26, 2017 Washington — The Organized Dentistry Coalition is asking Congress to revisit student debt when it considers reauthorizing federal student loan programs later this year.

In April 26 letters to House Committee on Education and Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Ranking Member Robert C. Scott, D-Va., and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ODC urged legislators to include several proposals when reauthorizing the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Higher Education Act provides the statutory authority for most federal student loan programs to operate, including those that dental students use most.

The coalition also urged Congress to consider permitting federal graduate student loans to be refinanced more than once so that new dentists can take advantage of lower interest rates under more favorable economic conditions, as provided in H.R. 1614, the Student Loan Refinancing Act.

"We are extremely concerned about the alarming levels of educational debt that dental students face at graduation," the coalition wrote. "One way to help mitigate the extraordinary levels of educational debt is to lower the interest rates and other borrowing terms for federal student loans."

"Reducing the excessive burden of 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 letter concluded.

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