Washington — The American Dental Association and two other dental groups March 24 urged Congress to revisit student debt when it considers reauthorizing federal student loan programs later this year, according to ADA News.
In a letter to House Committee on Education and Workforce Chair Virginia Fox, R-N.C., and Ranking Member Robert C. Scott, D-Va., the ADA, along with the American Student Dental Association and American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, urged the legislators to include several proposals when reauthorizing the Higher Education Act of 1965. That legislation provides the statutory authority for most federal student loan programs to operate, including those that dental students use most.
“We are extremely concerned about the alarming levels of educational debt that dental students face at graduation,” the organizations wrote. “One way to help mitigate the extraordinary levels of educational debt is to lower the interest rates and other borrowing terms for federal student loans.”
The three dental groups urged Congress to consider:
- Lowering the interest rates on federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.
- Reinstating eligibility for graduate and professional degree students to use federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans to finance their graduate education.
- Permitting federal graduate student loans to be refinanced more than once so that new dentists can take advantage of lower interest rates under more favorable economic conditions, as provided in H.R. 1614, the Student Loan Refinancing Act.
- Halting the accrual of interest while a student is completing an internship or residency and cap total amount of interest that can accrue overall.
- Extending the deferment period to the maximum extent practicable.
- Simplifying and adding more transparency to the federal graduate student loan application process.
- Removing the barriers that prohibit those with private graduate student loans from taking advantage of federal student loan forgiveness/service payback programs.
In 2016, the average educational debt per graduating dental school senior was $219,463, according to an annual survey from the American Dental Education Association.
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