Four out of five dentists borrow more than $100,000 to graduate from dental school these days, with members of the class of 2014 who borrowed taking out $247,227 in loans on average, according to the American Dental Education Association.
Fortunately, there are many federal and state programs that help dentists pay down their student loan debt, often in exchange for working in areas that have a shortage of dentists (see Credible’s Dental school loan repayment guide for a list).
One such program in Iowa is not only attracting dentists to underserved areas, it also helped Dr. Adrienne D’Agostino Kane buy out her father’s dental practice, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports.
Delta Dental of Iowa’s Fulfilling Iowa’s Need for Dentists (FIND) project provides up to $100,000 in loan repayments over five years to dentists who agree to set up a private practice in one of Iowa’s designated dental shortage areas, and allocate 35 percent of patient services to underserved populations. Delta Dental provides $50,000 in grants, the state kicks in another $25,000, and sponsoring communities contribute $5,000 a year over five years.
Delta Dental Public Benefit Manager Beth Jones tells the Telegraph Herald that 28 of 31 dentists who have received grants through the program in the last 15 years are still in Iowa.
“Our practice has in one way, shape or form been in Maquoketa for over 100 years, and I plan to keep it there for as long as I can,” Kane told the newspaper.
Many dentists may also qualify to refinance their student loans with a private lender at a lower interest rate. Borrowers refinancing government loans with a private lender lose access to borrower benefits that come with federal loans, like income-driven repayment plans and the potential for loan forgiveness. But many decide that the savings they can achieve through refinancing are more than worth the trade-off.
Credible is a multi-lender marketplace that allows borrowers to request competitive loan offers from vetted lenders, without affecting their credit scores.