The ADA continues to support student loan reform for dental students and dentists and is working with Congress to find ways to improve the overall debt burden for the profession.
In a Dec. 19 letter to Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, D-Fla., ADA President George R. Shepley, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., thanked the lawmaker for her work on HR 8872, the Lowering Obstacles to Achievement Now Act, or LOAN Act.
"Specifically, the provisions in the LOAN Act that our members most appreciate are those that would allow graduate students, including dental students, to have access to subsidized loans and those that would lower interest rates on federal loans," Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia wrote. "We know that the LOAN Act was intended to address a myriad of student debt issues and although we support many aspects of the bill, we would still request that any future work on this or similar bills include additional student loan reforms."
The ADA noted that with the average dentist graduating with over $300,000 in student loan debt, this debt may affect their practice choices by holding back those dentists who want to practice in underserved areas or by preventing new dentists from being able to purchase a dental practice.
"Although the LOAN Act does include provisions that would ease some of the debt burden many of our students and new dentists have, there are numerous other policies that we would hope the LOAN Act could be amended to include," the ADA said.
These are the additional bills that the ADA would like Congress to consider for future amendments or student loan reform legislative packages:
- HR 4122, the Resident Education Deferred Interest Act, would allow medical and dental residents to defer payments on their federal student loans - and delay the point at which interest begins to accrue - until after completing their residency.
- HR 4726, the Student Loan Interest Deduction Act, would double the student loan interest deduction (from $2,500 to $5,000) and eliminate the income limits that prevent those with higher incomes from reaping the benefit.
- HR 7539, the Indian Health Service Health Professions Tax Fairness Act, would allow dentists participating in the Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program to exclude interest and principal payments from their federal income taxes, as well as certain benefits received by those in the Indian Health Professions Scholarships Program.
- HR 1285, the Dental Loan Repayment Assistance Act, would allow full-time faculty members participating in the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program to exclude the amount of the loan forgiveness from their federal income taxes.
- HR 2295, the HIV Epidemic Loan-Repayment Program Act, would offer up to $250,000 in educational loan repayment to dentists, physicians and other health care professionals in exchange for up to five years of service at Ryan White-funded clinical sites and in health profession shortage areas.
"Thank you again for including provisions in the LOAN Act that would support our students and dentists as they navigate their extreme levels of student debt," the letter concluded. "The ADA would be happy to discuss ways in which we could work with you and your staff to further improve the LOAN Act or other future student loan reform legislation."
For more information on the ADA's advocacy efforts, visit ADA.org/Advocacy .