The CDA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the California Dental Association, is accepting online applications through July 31 for the Student Loan Repayment Grant, which supports recent graduates of a dental school or an advanced dental education program in exchange for their commitment to provide care for underserved communities and populations.
For the 2021 award cycle, the Foundation will select two recipients to receive a grant award of up to $50,000 per year for a maximum of $250,000 over five years to apply toward their educational debts. One selected runner-up will receive the Webb Family Grant, which provides an award of up to $5,000.
The goal of the Student Loan Repayment Grant is to immediately reduce barriers to oral health care services, but Ronald Mead, DDS, chair of the CDA Foundation Board of Directors, said the weight of student loan debt, which today can reach or exceed $250,000, can make a career in public or community health nearly impossible for new dentists.
“The Foundation’s Student Loan Repayment Grant is designed to offset most of the new dentist’s financial burden, therefore making it easier for the dentist to choose a career in public health ― and to remain in it,” Dr. Mead said.
To be eligible for the Student Loan Repayment Grant, the applicant must be an active, enrolled Medi-Cal Dental (Denti-Cal) provider or have submitted their application to the California Department of Health Care Services to become a Medi-Cal Dental provider. Additionally, the selected grant recipient must maintain a patient caseload of at least 30% Medi-Cal Dental beneficiaries.
Applicants are eligible for the grant if they graduated from a CODA-accredited predoctoral or advanced dental education program within the last three years of the award cycle ― for the current cycle, no earlier than May 1, 2018 ― or be positioned to graduate within three months of submitting their application.
Other eligibility criteria include:
Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation’s Student Loan Repayment Grant has allowed 20 dentists to embrace their desire to work in public health. In 2020 alone, recent grant recipients saw over 7,000 patients and provided over $1.6 million in dental care.
The Foundation paused the grant program in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is pleased to offer it again with some changes for 2021, including the increased annual loan amount spread over five years, as well as the Medi-Cal Dental-related eligibility criteria.
Apply online for the Foundation’s Student Loan Repayment Grant. The application period closes at 11:59 p.m. July 31. Or, visit the award webpage for the complete guidelines and to learn about past grant recipients.