Student Loan Repayment Grant offers up to $105K

The weight of student loan debt can make a desired career in public or community health difficult to impossible for new dentists.

To offset some of this financial burden as well as help new graduates realize their chosen careers, the CDA Foundation awards the Student Loan Repayment Grant annually to a recent dental school graduate. The award provides up to $35,000 per year and a maximum of $105,000 over three years to be applied toward the repayment of the graduate’s educational loan. In exchange, the grant recipient makes a three-year commitment to provide care for the underserved.

As of May 1, the Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2017 Student Loan Repayment Grant. The application period closes July 31.

“The grant from the Foundation has allowed me to continue to serve in underserved communities and meet my loan repayment obligations,” said Habiba Ismail, DDS, recipient of the 2016 Student Loan Repayment Grant. “New graduates may shy away from community dentistry if they are saddled with massive student loan debt,” she added.

Grant application guidelines

To be eligible for the Student Loan Repayment Grant, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Graduate from an ADA-accredited dental school with a DDS or DMD degree within the last three years or positioned to graduate in the next three months at the time of application.
  • Be eligible to practice dentistry in California.
  • Be a legal citizen or resident of the United States.
  • Submit a completed online application packet.
  • Have received student loans from governmental and/or commercial lending institutions.
  • Sign a binding contract to serve a minimum of three years in one of the following:
    1. A California Dental Health Professional Shortage Area (DHPSA) pursuant to section 254e(a) of Title 42 of the United States Code, or
    2. An area of the state where unmet priority needs for dentists exist as determined by the California Health Manpower Policy Commission pursuant to Section 128225, or
    3. In an underserved work site as determined by the CDA Foundation.
  • Secured employment with an eligible work site.
  • Provide no less than 30 hours of hands-on clinical dental care per week: total hours can be accomplished among one or more eligible work site(s).
  • Not be in default or have judgment liens for any debts including, but not limited to, taxes and education assistance programs.

“I urge all those who are contemplating applying for the Student Loan Repayment Grant to apply,” said Ismail, who graduated from the UCLA School of Dentistry in 2013 and is currently working at St. John's Well Child & Family Center in Los Angeles. Ismail encourages applicants to be true to themselves when answering the application questions. “Tell your story,” she said. “Community dentistry is immensely rewarding and you will get to practice it while getting the help you need to reduce your debt load.”

The goal of the SLRG program is to immediately reduce barriers to oral health care access and services in targeted underserved communities and populations as well as to establish an ongoing mechanism to provide dental professionals an opportunity to reduce their financial burden while working in these communities.

The applicant who is selected as runner-up for the Student Loan Repayment Grant will receive the Webb Family Grant, which provides an award of up to $5,000 toward the recipient’s education expenses. More information about the Webb Family Grant, named for Russell Webb, DDS, and Kathi Webb, is available on the CDA Foundation webpage.

Since 2002, the Student Loan Repayment Grant program has enabled 17 dentists to embrace their dream of working in public health. Learn more about the CDA Foundation’s grants, awards and scholarships, which are available throughout the year and have various deadlines and submissions periods, at cdafoundation.org/receive.

Apply for the Student Loan Repayment Grant on the CDA Foundation webpage. Read more about Dr. Ismail’s story (and other past winners’ stories) on cda.org.

Related Items

In February 2017, the Department of Health Care Services announced the 15 selected proposals for Local Dental Pilot Project (LDPP) funding, with awards totaling $150 million over four years. Local Dental Pilot Projects are one of the four domains of the Dental Transformation Initiative and part of California’s 1115 waiver, or Medi-Cal 2020. The DTI represents a huge $740 million investment in the Denti-Cal Program and the oral health of Californians.

The CDA Foundation offers financial support to dental professionals and community-based organizations across the state that provide dental care to underserved communities. The Foundation is currently accepting applications and nominations for: Dental Materials & Supplies Grant; Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni Faculty Award; and CDA Foundation Humanitarian Award.

Two ways the CDA Foundation gives are through community grants and educational scholarships. Over the years, these awards have enabled thousands of people to receive more than $109 million in care. The CDA Foundation has announced the recipients of four annual awards and educational scholarships.