By Debra Wood, RN, contributor Mar 10, 2020
Dentist jobs continually rank at
the top of the U.S. News Best Jobs
list, and 2020 was no exception. Dentists topped the list among all health care
jobs, and came in second among all occupations.
83 percent graduated with student loan debt
Their average debt was $292,169
19 percent of the graduates owed less than
39 percent had student loan debt of more than
The rewards of the profession
are many—yet earning a dental degree in order to practice is extremely costly.
why most young dentists graduate with substantial dental school debt. How they
manage it and how it affects their careers differs, however.
American Dental Education Association (ADEA) reports that among the dental
school class of 2019:
ADEA indicates dental school grads have a reputation for repaying their debt in
a timely manner, and young dentists begin earning money after graduation more
quickly than other health professionals.
borrowers are unaware that their loan may start accruing interest at
disbursement, however. That interest is added back to the principal. The debt
can take years to pay off, even for dentists who earn a good salary.How much dentists earn.
general practitioner dentists earn about $160,000 net income annually while practice
owners average $201,860 net annually, according to the American Dental
Association’s 2019 Survey of Dental Practice. Specialists earn more, averaging
$330,180 across all specialties.
2015 study in The Journal of the American
found dentists with high debt levels were less likely to
specialize than young dentists with less debt. Those with high student debts
are more likely to accept high-paying jobs, work longer hours and enter private
you have student debt and own a dental practice?
says Sabrina Morrow, MBA, vice president and business development manager for
Healthcare at Wells Fargo Practice Finance in Seattle. New dentists can borrow
for a private practice, even if they have student loans. She indicated other
debts can be a challenge, however.Find
high-paying locum tenens dentist jobs.
4 ways to pay off dental school
1. Refinance the note
“If you owe less than 1.5 times your income, you should pay
it off,” advised Travis Hornsby, CFA, founder and CEO of Student Loan Planner
in St. Louis.
That payoff may involve refinancing the original debt. Interest
rates currently remain low, making it a good time to refinance.
Or, if possible, the dentist also can aggressively repay the
loan, in order to pay as little interest as possible.
new dentists are able to refinance their debt at a lower interest rate,
according to ADEA.
American Dental Association (ADA) has a relationship with Laurel Road, which
will offer members a discount on refinancing and does not charge members
application or origination fees. Additionally, the ADA charges recent graduates
2. Consider federal loan forgiveness
The Pay As You Earn (PAYE) program offers a way to forgive some dental school
debt. These plans require payment of 10 percent of the dentist’s discretionary
income for 20 years. It’s available to borrowers who took out loans after 2011,
but not before October 2007.
“If you owe more than 1.5 times
your income though, you could get a lot of your debt forgiven,” Hornsby said. “Just
pay 10 percent of your income over 20 years, and the remaining balance gets
wiped away at the end.”
he warned, the dentist “would
pay income taxes on the forgiven balance, but even if the sum is large, you can
just save a few hundred dollars a month in a mutual fund account…and likely
have enough to cover it.”
Pay As Your Earn (REPAYE) for people with direct loans also requires paying 10
percent of discretionary income and offers dental school debt forgiveness after
3. Participate in the PSLF program
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program offers loan forgiveness of
remaining federal debt after the dentist works in the public service or a tax-exempt
not-for-profit organization for at least 10 years. Before applying, the dentist
must work full-time and make 120 timely payments to the lender. Also, the loan
has to be direct or consolidated into a direct loan.
4. Earn extra income working locum tenens
tenens dentist assignments offer part-time or full-time positions.
The pay is good. Working part-time assignments on top of a full-time job can
help young dentists pay down their student loans faster. Full-time travelers
can earn money while they travel to different areas and decide where they might
want to set up or join a dental practice.
agencies also cover housing and travel expenses for travel assignments, which
can help locum dentists avoid some major expenses.
Options Available for Locum Tenens Dentists
States Most in Need of Dentists
STAFF CARE places dentists and other
practitioners in locum tenens jobs across the U.S.
Contact a Recruiter To Learn More