ADA supports student loan bill

The American Dental Association is supporting legislation that would double the student loan interest deduction - from $2,500 to $5,000 - and eliminate the income limits that prevent those who live in high-cost areas from reaping the benefit.

In a May 31 letter to Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., ADA President Cesar R. Sabates, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., thanked the lawmaker for sponsoring HR 4726, the Student Loan Interest Deduction Act of 2021.

"Today's new dentists face unprecedented levels of debt as a direct result of paying for dental school," wrote Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia, who noted that new dentists graduate with on average nearly $305,000 in educational debt, according to the 2020 American Dental Education Association's Survey of U.S. Dental School Seniors.

In the letter, Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia pointed out that borrowing terms on federal student loans are generally more favorable than for private loans but said the interest rates can reach as high as 9.5% or 10.5%, depending on the type of loan and market conditions and interest beings accruing immediately.

That financial hardship is a "particular challenge" for the more than one third of dental school graduates who pursue low- or non-paying dental residencies.

"Even with a deferment, the interest continues to accrue throughout their residency period, adding tens of thousands of dollars to their debt," Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia wrote. "HR 4726 will not eliminate the educational debt burden for early career dentists - or replace the need for comprehensive student loan reform. But making that debt more manageable will help offset the unprecedented financial challenges these essential health care providers face at graduation."

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