'Bring loan rates down' ADA urges Senate
Washington—Urging Senate support for "a long term solution to bring graduate loan rates down," the Association said educational debt plays a major role in postgraduate career planning.
"It can influence whether a recent graduate will choose to enter private practice, focus on underserved communities or pursue a career in public service, teaching, research and/or public health," the Association told Senate leaders in a June 26 letter. Senate members were planning to leave town June 28 for the Fourth of July recess having failed to address a scheduled July 1 increase in student loan interest rates after weeks of negotiations.
Rates could be revised retroactively, and that appeared to be an aim of at least some of the senators engaged in loan rate negotiations.
"The ADA respectfully requests that as leaders of the United States Senate you support legislation to keep Stafford Loans at or as close to 3.4 percent as possible and work on a long term solution to bring the graduate rates down," said the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
"As you know, on July 1, the fixed interest rate on subsidized Stafford Loans for undergraduates is set to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. This would significantly add to the educational debt burden of students entering dental school," said the letter signed by ADA President Dr. Robert A Faiella and Executive Director Dr. Kathleen O'Loughlin.
The average educational debt for graduating dental school seniors in 2011 was $180,557, the Association said. "Factoring out the 11.2 percent of dental school seniors who graduated with no debt, the average debt per graduating dental school senior was $203,374 ($177,795 for graduates from public dental schools and $245,497 for graduates from private and private state-related dental schools)."
"Keeping student interest rates low is crucial to mitigating the catastrophic level of debt for those entering this important health care profession," the Association said.