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ADA urges Education dept. to prioritize student loan reform

Association also requests simplifying Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program application process

March 31, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is asking the U.S. Department of Education to prioritize student loan reform.

“The Biden administration is well-positioned to tackle the most serious problems in higher education today, including the alarming levels of educational debt so many of our students face at graduation,” wrote ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., in a March 30 letter congratulating incoming Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona.

The ADA also urged Sec. Cardona to prioritize the following:

• Protecting access to federal direct unsubsidized Stafford loans and Grad PLUS loans for graduate and professional degree students.
• Reinstating eligibility for graduate and professional degree students to take advantage of federal direct subsidized Stafford loans.
• Removing annual and cumulative borrowing limits on federal student loans.
• Lowering the interest rates and fees on federal student loans.
• Capping total amount of interest that can accrue on federal student loans.
• Halting the accrual of federal student loan interest while a dentist is completing a medical/dental internship or residency.
• Extending the period of federal student loan deferment until after a new dentist has completed his or her medical/dental internship or residency.
• Permitting federal graduate student loans to be refinanced more than once.
• Simplifying and adding more transparency to the federal graduate student loan application process.
• Encouraging institutions of higher education and lenders to offer training to help students make informed decisions about how to finance their graduate education.
• Encouraging collaborative approaches to handling borrowers who fail (or are at risk of failing) to fully repay their federal student loan(s) in the required time period.
• Enabling those with private loans to take advantage of the same benefits and protections offered to federal student loan borrowers.

The ADA is also asking the department to simplify the application process — and clarify the eligibility and qualification criteria — for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

“This program forgives any remaining federal educational debt after ten years of qualifying public service,” the letter concluded. “It has the potential to alleviate the oral health needs of the vulnerable and underserved by encouraging dentists to practice where they live.”

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