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Dental groups thank Congress for supporting loan repayment program

August 21, 2018

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — Four dental organizations, including the ADA, are thanking Congress for introducing legislation that would allow full-time faculty members participating in the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program to deduct the benefits received from their federal income taxes.

In an Aug. 20 letter to Reps. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz, the ADA, American Dental Education Association, American Association of Orthodontists and American Student Dental Association said they were "pleased that Congress understands the importance of this program."

"As you know, [HR 6149] will exclude certain federal loan repayments made to dental faculty from being included as gross income for the faculty member that receives it," the groups wrote. "This would prevent the dental faculty member from having to pay a potentially hefty tax bill on those federal loan repayments as defined in Title VII of the Public Health Service Act."

The Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program was created to assist accredited dental schools in recruiting qualified faculty and residents in advanced education programs in general, pediatric or public health dentistry. In the letter, the dental groups explained that a critical factor in recruiting and retaining these positions is "the staggering level of student loan debt and income disparity with private practice."

"Because of your support, new dental faculty loan repayment grant cycles were initiated by the Health Resources and Services Administration in fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018," the organizations wrote. "Programs may support loan repayment contracts over five years to recruit and retain faculty. Full-time faculty members are eligible for repayment of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 percent of their student loan balance (principal and interest) for each year of service."

"The program is already making a real impact in oral health training, and by alleviating taxation of such payments to the individual, HR 6149 will make the program even more effective in recruiting and retaining dental faculty," they concluded.