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Laurel Road offers student loan refinancing savings, positive experience

Association members receive additional discounts through endorsement program

November 05, 2018

By Kimber Solana

Dr. Daniel Hall graduated from dental school in 2015 with about $400,000 in student loans.

"I attended a state-supported school, was reasonable in my lifestyle — no boats, no new cars, no fancy clothes — and that was my debt load," said Dr. Hall, New Dentist Committee member. "I think the cost of dental education is a very pressing issue for our profession, and it will shape the career paths of my cohorts and future dentists for generations."

Image of Laurel Road logoDr. Hall, who completed a general practice residency program and worked as an associate dentist for two years, was paying off his Stafford subsidized, unsubsidized and Grad PLUS loans with an average interest rate of 6.9 percent.

Although he was hesitant to refinance, he didn't like his federal loan servicer.

"They never seemed to really have a finger on the pulse of my loans," he said.

Dr. Hall sent application information to three refinancing services. In the end, he chose to refinance with Laurel Road, the student loan-refinancing program endorsed by the ADA.

Today, Dr. Hall said, he pays an interest rate of 5.55 percent, with an additional 0.25 percent ADA discount that members receive through the collaboration — saving him tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

"For me, the ADA endorsement meant a lot," he said, adding that his experience with Laurel Road, from the application process to his monthly payments, has been positive.

When it comes to managing school debt, Laurel Road recommends dentists take a strategic approach. Identify your financial goals and pick a student loan repayment plan that helps you to meet them.

When choosing between a federal plan and a private refinancing program, dentists should ask themselves questions such as, "Am I confident in my ability to consistently repay my student loans?" and "Do I anticipate having an outstanding student loan balance in 10, 15, or 20 years?" Refinancing is an option that can maximize savings by reducing the interest rate and lowering the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan.

ADA members receive an extra 0.25 percent discount on their student loan refinancing rate as long as they maintain their membership. In addition, students going into any one of the nine ADA-recognized specialties and general practice residencies are able to refinance their entire student loan portfolio as soon as they are matched to a residency program. Rates for the Resident Student Loan Refinancing program range from 4.27 percent to 6.99 percent, including an extra discount for those that set up autopay.

Dr. Hall said he found the refinancing application process with Laurel Road easy enough.

"It was easy to upload the documents they needed; it was always easy to call and talk to a real person on the phone if questions came up," he said. "What I liked was that they weren't afraid of my debt, or that of my wife, who was in pharmacy school while I was in dental school and also had professional school debt."

In addition, he said, the application looked at them holistically: his debt, his wife's debt, their combined incomes and their cost of living.

"It took less than a week [to get a response] once I got all the information to them," Dr. Hall said of the application process. "They needed to see official loan documents, bank records, etc. Getting the information [they needed] took longer than getting their response."

Dr. Hall, who recently purchased a practice in upstate South Carolina, receives a monthly statement from Laurel Road that shows his autodraft, how much he owes and any additional amount he selected to pay.

"But most importantly, it shows your loan balance, how your payments posted and how much progress you have made against your loans," he said. "That was missing from my federal loan servicer's statement and online experience. With Laurel Road, I feel like they are doing what a loan servicer should do without me having to keep tabs on them. As a new business owner, that is critical."

For more information on Laurel Road and student loan refinancing and current rates, visit LaurelRoad.com/ADA. For information on ADA debt resources, visit ADA.org/mydebt.