Dental Student loan

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Dental Student loan

The Problem

People at many different income levels can no longer afford the exponentially growing cost of higher education without the use of federal student loans which they have little to no realistic prospects of being able to pay back.  A bubble is growing.

My Solution

I see a solution as two fold.  Number one – allow deductions based on a percentage of income in addition to the minimal income level.  This just seems far more logical.  It will ensure that individuals that make a good salary but also have huge student loan debts do not have to use all of their after tax dollars to pay of student loan debt.  A new doctor, like those graduating from Midwestern dental school, can easily have $400,000-$450,000.  If they can not deduct any of their student loan payment because they make $100,000/year then much of their after tax dollars will be spent on these payments.  Number two – make it easier for student loans (at least the interest) to be forgiven in bankruptcy or hardship.  I realize this will increase the rate for all individuals but I think this is a reasonable compromise.  We have created a class of lower income individuals that are economically hopeless because of this unbreakable financial chain.  People need hope.

Now please excuse – My RANT!!

The student loan issue is truly a mess.  The bills attached seems like a way for the federal government to ensure that it is getting paid by withdrawing the money they deem needed from people’s paychecks??  Sounds a lot like socialism in that the government is dictating what you need and taking your money before you ever see it.  They are also deciding retroactively that some people, those making less, should get a better deal than others.  Where is the responsibility of the students or the students family to guide their child into a profession that makes enough to pay off the amount of money it costs to attain the degree?  I do like the 10% cap on income clause in the Dynamic Repayment Act.
I disagree with the angle that this bill takes to solve the problem of higher student loan costs.  Subsidizing and allowing individuals not to feel the pain or fear from the choices they consciously made in their life, ie attain a very expensive education in a field unlikely to be able to produce enough to pay that money back, will only prolong the problem and solve nothing.  It is treating the symptoms not the disease.  I believe this issue should mostly be left alone and let the free market work it out.  Students will get wise to the fact they can not afford such high costs and either demand lower costs or find ways to make money while in school.  I had no clue how much money I was building up in dental school, I didn’t work, and I lived a very nice Chicago life in a nice apartment in Lincoln Park.  In fact my life was very similar to all my friends with jobs.  Had there been dentists working at the time saying, “Hey, I can not afford my student loan payments, keep a close eye on yours!” I would have done things differently.  However, I went to school when money was CHEAP (1.75%) and costs were reasonable (about 1/3 of today).  If students are paying attention today they will see and or hear about people in their industry struggling and start making better decisions.  I would be all for a mandated extensive loan repayment education program for all university students, as well as a mortgage payment education program but that is another story.  Education and free market will solve this problem more efficiently than subsidizing the costs of those that made poor decisions.



Among the hardest hit by the exploding cost of higher education in the United States are dental students due to the length of their training. These rising costs pose a significant threat to oral health. The average dentist, for example, now graduates with over $200,000 in student loan debt – a burden which weighs heavily on one’s ability to choose a preferred career path. Many new dentists are now forced by economic necessity to select practice options that are more lucrative as opposed to those that are not only rewarding, but very much needed such as practicing in underserved areas. Adding to the problem is the fact that dental school tuition has nearly doubled since 2000. With costs continuing to rise each year, timely action is needed to protect the next generation of dentists from being inhibited by staggering amounts of debt. The future status of our country’s oral health depends on it.
H.R. 1716, the Earnings Contingent Education Loans (ExCEL) Act
The ExCEL Act makes income-based repayment (IBR) the universal repayment method for federal student loans and streamlines it by allowing borrowers to repay through the employer-withholding system. Therefore, payment amounts respond in real time to changes in income without the paperwork burden that we have now. Under the current IBR option, borrowers must submit documentation of their income every time their income changes. Under the ExCEL Act, this information would be updated automatically.
Alarmingly, over 13 percent of borrowers default on their federal student loans within three years of entering repayment. Clearly, repaying student loans through fixed payments doesn’t work as graduates tend to earn less when they first leave school and earn more over time. The ExCEL Act is based on the reasoning that payment amounts should be an affordable percentage of the borrower’s income with protections for those who struggle with unemployment or low income after school.

Dynamic Repayment Act

As you may recall, the AGD has long supported the ExCEL Act, legislation introduced in the House that helps borrowers manage their debt and avoid default. The AGD is pleased to report that many of the reforms outlined in the ExCEL Act have now taken shape in the Senate via S. 2612, the Dynamic Repayment Act. 

Similar to the ExCEL Act, the Dynamic Repayment Act makes income-based repayment (IBR) the universal repayment method for federal student loans and streamlines the repayment process by allowing borrowers to repay through the employer-withholding system.  


Bryan Bauer, DDS, FAGD