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ADA supports two student loan reform bills

Bills call for lowering federal student loan interest rates, allow new dentists to refinance federal student loans more than once

April 13, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is supporting two student loan reform bills to help offset the financial challenges facing dentists after they graduate.

HR 1918, the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act, would shift federal student loan interest rates downward, delay interest accrual and allow loan payments to be deferred until after the completion of a medical or dental residency.

“Graduate student debt has been rising for decades, even after adjusting for inflation. It has risen to the point that today new dentists with debt are starting their careers owing nearly $305,000 in educational debt,” wrote ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., in an April 13 letter thanking Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fla., for introducing HR 1918.

HR 1918 would also provide economic relief to the next generation of
health care providers by:

• Offering borrowers a chance to refinance their federal student loans when the
interest rate on the 10-year Treasury note is lower.
• Eliminating origination fees and instead set future student loan interest rates at the 10-year Treasury note rate, plus 1%.
• Delaying student loan interest rate accrual for many low- and middle-income borrowers while they are in school.
• Allowing medical and dental residents to defer payments until after completing their residency programs.

HR 2160, the Student Loan Refinancing Act, was introduced by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis. If enacted, this bill would allow new dentists to refinance their federal student loans more than once to take advantage of lower interest rates and better economic conditions. It would also provide multiple opportunities for federal Direct Loan, Direct PLUS Loan and Direct Consolidation Loan borrowers to refinance their loans when the interest rates on the 10-year Treasury note are lower. The refinanced rates would be also fixed, protecting dentists from interest rate hikes when economic conditions are less favorable.

“[These bills] won’t solve the student debt crisis, but they will help offset the unprecendented financial challenges that dentists face” and “may also inspire more highly indebted young dentists to practice in underserved areas,” Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin stressed to both lawmakers.

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