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Eligible dental students, dentists can apply for up to $300K in student loan repayment

Practice support grants also available; all CalHealthCares applications close Feb. 26

January 20, 2021 4559

Quick Summary:

The CalHealthCares application deadline was extended to Feb. 26. The program encourages recent graduates to build Medi-Cal into their patient mix. This article covers eligibility requirements for dentists and dental students applying for either the loan repayment or practice support grant.

Eligible dentists and dental students in California can apply online by Feb. 26 for a student loan repayment of up to $300,000 or a practice support grant — also up to $300,000 — through the Medi-Cal Physicians and Dentists Loan Repayment Program known as CalHealthCares. The deadline was extended from the original Feb. 12 deadline. 

Increasing access to care for Medi-Cal patients by encouraging recent graduates to build Medi-Cal into their patient mix is the goal of the program, which is funded by revenues from Proposition 56 ― the state tobacco tax that voters passed in 2016.  All awardees are required to maintain an individual direct-patient caseload of at least 30% Medi-Cal beneficiaries: loan repayment awardees for five years and practice support grant awardees for 10 years.  

Eligibility for student loan repayment

  • Current dental students or dental residents who will graduate, practice in California, be an active Medi-Cal Dental provider and meet all other eligibility criteria (page 16) by June 30, 2021. 
  • Dentists who practice in California, are an active Medi-Cal Dental provider, graduated from dental school or a dental residency program within the last five years (on or after Jan. 1, 2016) and meet all other eligibility criteria (page 17).

Eligibility for practice support grant

  • Dentists who practice in California, are an active Medi-Cal Dental provider, graduated from dental school or a dental residency program within the last 15 years (on or after Jan. 1, 2006) and meet all other eligibility criteria (page 17).
  • Submit a business plan that describes intention to establish, expand or relocate a dental practice to one of the specified counties with highest need for Medi-Cal dental providers. 

The program is also open to recently graduated physicians and physician residents or fellows. Applicants cannot apply for both the loan repayment and the practice support grant.

All applications close at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 26.

Applications submitted by Jan. 29 will receive early review, can be ‘fixed’ and resubmitted 

CalHealthCares will conduct an early review of applications received between Jan. 18 and Jan. 29 and will notify applicants of any inconsistencies on their applications. Those applicants will then have the opportunity to correct the inconsistencies and resubmit their application within three business days.

Inconsistencies in the application, especially on the employment verification form or lender statements, can result in ineligibility or a reduced award amount for the applicant. Applicants should review the scoring matrix to understand how each section of the application is scored.

Dentists who apply for the practice support grant, for example, must provide a valid business plan that documents their plans for establishing, expanding or relocating their practice to a high-needs region. The business plan can receive a score of 5 points out of a total 60 points. Business plan guidelines are included on pages 81-82 of the application instructions.

Applicants are encouraged to watch the nine-minute video tutorial and read the relevant sections of the application instructions before applying. Applicants will also need to register first to access the online application.