The AAO joined the American Dental Association and 11 other specialty academies and associations in conveying support for provisions in the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) re-authorization designed to address student loan debt among dentists. The dental groups also expressed support for legislation introduced to allow new dentists to refinance their federal student loans whenever market rates are low, as homeowners are able to do with their mortgage loans.

The AAO signed onto an April 26 letter to Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and Congressman Bobby Scott – Chair and Ranking Member, respectively – of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The letter urges the legislators to advance H.R. 1614, the Student Loan Refinancing Act. The bill would allow new dentists to refinance their federal student loans more than once to take advantage of lower interest rates and better economic conditions.

Comprehensive Changes Proposed to Higher Education Re-Authorization Package

A separate letter from the AAO and the other dental groups  to Chairwoman Foxx and Ranking Member Scott requests incorporation of proposed changes into re-authorization of the student assistance provisions (Title IV) in the Higher Education Act. Desired changes expressed to the legislators include:

  • Lower the interest rates and origination fees on federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.
  • Reinstate eligibility for graduate and professional degree students to use federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans to finance their graduate education.
  • Permit federal graduate student loans to be refinanced more than once so that new dentists can take advantage of lower interest rates when economic conditions are more favorable, as provided in H.R. 1614, the Student Loan Refinancing Act.
  • Halt the accrual of interest while a student is completing an internship or residency and cap the total amount of interest that can accrue overall.
  • Extend the period of deferment until after a new dentist has completed his or her medical/dental internship or residency.
  • Simplify and add more transparency to the federal graduate student loan application process.
  • Remove the barriers that prohibit those with private graduate student loans from taking advantage of federal student loan forgiveness/service payback programs.
  • Encourage institutions of higher education and lenders to offer training to help students make informed decisions about how to finance their graduate education

The HEA re-authorization proposals were also sent to Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray – Chair and Ranking Member, respectively – of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Learn about the AAO’s Ongoing Advocacy Efforts

As part of its ongoing political advocacy program, the AAO is working to make policy-makers in Washington, D.C. aware of how large student debt loads impact orthodontists. Additional information about student debt-related policy changes supported by the AAO is included in the April 2017 Practice Management Bulletin feature on advocacy (see page 5).