Student Loan Spotlight: Taking the lead to tackle dental school debt

Ms. Walsh-Epstein

While the student loan debt debate continues to make headlines, the average dental school graduate in 2023 finished school owing $286,000 in student loan debt, according to the Education Data Initiative. While this amount of debt may seem overwhelming, it shouldn’t stand in the way of your long-term financial goals. The first step is understanding recent changes to the student loan landscape, what your repayment or forgiveness options are, and how to create a personalized plan to manage your student loan debt.

What’s new: SAVE plan for federal student loans

In 2023, the Biden administration introduced a new income-driven repayment plan for federal borrowers, called Saving on a Valuable Education, which is now likely the best plan for federal borrowers. SAVE calculates monthly payments based on 5% of your discretionary income for undergrad loans and 10% for graduate loans, or a weighted average if you have both. Through SAVE, most borrowers will have the lowest monthly payment option, and ultimately, more of their loan balance could be forgiven.

Understanding student loan forgiveness for dentists

Through IDR plans such as SAVE, dentists can have their remaining student loan balance forgiven after 10-25 years of qualifying payments under the plan, regardless of whether they work in private practice or the public sector.

If you’re a dentist working in the public sector, you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The PSLF program is available to borrowers employed by government entities or qualifying nonprofit organizations and allows them to qualify for student loan forgiveness after 10 years of qualifying monthly payments.

To understand how to qualify for PSLF or an IDR plan, you can schedule a free consultation with a student loan specialist.

Student loan refinancing options for dentists

If you have private student loans or don’t qualify for federal forgiveness programs, student loan refinancing may be a good option to help you lower your interest rate, pay off your loans faster or potentially lower your monthly payments.

As an ADA member, you’re eligible for an exclusive member rate discount on student loan refinancing with Laurel Road. Keep in mind that if you refinance federal student loans with a private lender, you will lose access to federal programs, such as IDR, federal forbearance and any other federal benefits.

Given the significant investment you’ve made in your education and career, creating a plan to tackle dental school debt can give you the financial peace of mind you deserve.  

Ms. Walsh-Epstein has been with Laurel Road since 2022. She leads marketing efforts in addition to managing a team of acquisition, product and growth marketing experts dedicated to the success of Laurel Road’s student loan refinancing, personal loan, checking & savings, and Laurel Road for Doctors.

Recommended Content


© 2023 American Dental Association