Following years of work by the AAO, the Florida Association of Orthodontists and the Florida Dental Association, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed the Florida state budget which includes $2 million in recurring funding for the Dental Student Loan Repayment program.
The Florida Dental Student Loan Repayment Program, outlined in F.S. 381.4019, encourages dentists and orthodontists to serve the Medicaid population in dental health professional shortage areas and medically underserved areas throughout Florida. In exchange for the provider’s commitment to that mission, the Dental Student Loan Repayment program provides $50,000 in financial assistance per year for up to 5 years to go toward repayment of dental student loans ($250,000 in eligible funds to qualified candidates for their student loan repayments).
Following the program’s creation in 2019, it had been previously authorized by the State government, but never appropriated (funded). This year, working with the Florida dental and orthodontic organizations the AAO helped secure the $2 million recurring funding for the program by passing it successfully through the Florida House and Senate, followed by the Governor’s budget signing with the program funds included.
Florida Association of Orthodontists Provided Grassroots Support
The AAO thanks the many Florida Association of Orthodontists members who took grassroots actions, by reaching out to lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate and then contacting the Governor to advocate for the program to be funded.
The program allows for better dental care access while also investing in Florida’s dental workforce. Additionally, this repayment program provides a unique support solution for orthodontists carrying student loan debt. The AAO will be able to share this program with other states as a model for expanding access to quality care, workforce enhancement and community development through orthodontists and dentists serving in medically underserved rural and urban areas.