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Dental groups thank Congress for faculty loan repayment support

December 12, 2018

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — Five dental groups, led by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, are thanking two senators for their efforts in eliminating tax liability for tuition repayment programs. 

In a Dec. 10 letter to Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., AAPD, along with the ADA, American Dental Education Association, American Association of Orthodontists and American Student Dental Association, thanked the legislators for introducing S 10 — legislation that calls for allowing full-time faculty members participating in the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program to deduct the benefits received from their federal income taxes.

The bill, titled The Dental Loan Repayment Assistance Act, would keep dental faculty members from having to pay “potentially hefty” tax bills on their federal loan repayment benefits, “defined in Title VII of the Public Health Service Act.”

The Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program was created due to the significant difficulties in recruiting qualified individuals to fill faculty positions, according to the letter.

“A critical factor in recruiting and retaining dental school faculty from recent dental school or residency program graduates is the staggering level of student loan debt and income disparity with private practice,” the groups said.

The organizations thanked the legislators for understanding the importance of the program and said due to their 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 programs are able to support loan repayment contracts over five years to recruit and retain faculty and full-time faculty members are eligible for repayment of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 percent of their student loan balance — including 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, S 10 will make the program even more effective in recruiting and retaining dental faculty,” they wrote.  

“The AAPD, ADA, ADEA, AAO and ASDA are happy to assist as needed with education and advocacy for S 10. Thank you again for your leadership in advocating for our nation’s oral health,” they concluded.

The ADA also supports HR 7259, the House version of the bill. The Association sent an action alert to its grassroots members Dec. 18 requesting that they reach out to their House and Senate members of Congress requesting that they support the bills in both chambers.

Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.