ADA supports Department of Education efforts to improve student loan borrowing terms

Association also supports reforms to Public Service Loan Forgiveness program

The ADA is applauding the U.S. Department of Education's proposal to eliminate interest capitalization on certain federal student loans and reform the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

In comments filed Aug. 26, ADA President Cesar R. Sabates, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., said the ADA is largely supportive of the proposals but urged the department to counsel students that its student loan interest proposal would not eliminate interest capitalization for those exiting deferment, but forbearance only.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency paused loan payments and set interest rates to 0% for eligible federal student loans. That pause has now been extended through Dec. 31.

"Dental school graduates may be eligible for both, depending on their circumstances," Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia wrote. "Knowing the risk of experiencing interest capitalization ahead of time may influence their decision to enter deferment or forbearance."

Federal student loans are sometimes subject to interest capitalization, which can add tens of thousands of dollars to a new dentist's educational debt. This interest is triggered by designated "capitalizing events" that can cause a borrower's accrued, unpaid interest to become part of the principal balance, often without their knowledge, according to the comments.

"Eliminating this and other capitalizing events could be a tremendous benefit to dental and medical residents during a period of serious financial hardship," Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia said.

The ADA also said it supports the department's proposal to improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by streamlining the application process and clarifying and expanding the definitions for full-time employment, qualifying employers and qualifying monthly payments

"[These reforms] will make the program far more accessible to those willing to pursue 10 years of public service in exchange for having their federal student loans forgiven," Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia wrote.

The ADA further urged the department to begin tracking the types of degrees, including D.D.S. and D.M.D. degrees, for which federal educational loans are issued.

"We applaud the department for pursuing reforms," Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia wrote. "They will not eliminate the financial hardship for early career dentists, but they will help offset the unprecedented financial challenges these essential health care providers face at graduation."

For more information about the ADA's advocacy efforts on student loan reform, visit

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