Jaycee Brown

Jaycee Brown

Director of Communications

Must Do's for Dental School Student Loan Debt

The ceiling fan above my bed wasn’t installed properly. When I stare at it, which I often do at night when I can’t sleep, I notice that it has this irregular vibration pattern and wobbles more than it should. I’m convinced that at any moment it might vibrate itself right out of the sky and land on my head while I’m sleeping. Rarely do I ever think about my ceiling fan crushing me to death, but when I’m stressed out at night and can’t sleep my thoughts tend to become grandiose. Last night, I was thinking about my student loan debt and that sent me into an anxious spiral. In all honesty, I don’t know if the whole “dying by ceiling fan” thought was wishful thinking, in hopes I wouldn’t have to pay back my loans, or if it was just fearful delusion. Nevertheless, I should probably get my ceiling fan fixed. I should probably get my student loans taken care of too. The ceiling fan should be a relatively quick fix. The student loans, not so much.
The average debt after graduation for a dental student is around $247,227. That seems rather steep even if the average dentist’s salary is over $150,000 annually. I don’t have anywhere near that amount in student loan debt and I still lose sleep over it. The good news is for dentists, there are multiple programs they can participate in that will forgive student loan debt. A lot of these programs also apply to dental assistants and hygienists as well. There are also multiple organizations that provide these services.
California recently announced that a one time payment of $30 million would be added to the state budget for student loan repayment for dentists. California dentists that enroll in the program and fit certain qualifications will be eligible to receive a maximum of $300,000 over a five-year period in student loan repayment grants. California is just one of many states that have included repayment programs like this into their annual budget. For states that don’t have programs like this, there are still other options for loan repayment, like the HRSA Loan Repayment Program for example.
The Health Resources and Services Administration Loan Repayment Program (HRSA LRP) is a program that seeks dentist and other medical professionals to provide in underserved populations in the United States. There are two tracks for loan repayment.

  1. 2- year full-time clinical practice in an NPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area) approved by the NHSC, in which you would receive up to $50,000 towards your student loans.
  2. 2-year half-time clinical practice in an NPSA approved by the NHSC, in which you would receive up to $25,000 towards your student loans.

If you don’t mind working and living in a rural or underserved area of the country, the HRSA LRP is a great way to cut into that mountain of student debt.
Student loan debt is often referred to as “Golden Handcuffs” and the latter part of that phrase seems to be the word that explains it best. Your future is so bright and filled with opportunities for success, but first you must set yourself free and remove those handcuffs. Take the time and investigate a student loan repayment program. Get your future started right now.


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