Top Dental Loan Repayment Programs by State

Many dentists carry close to $500,000 of dental student loan debt. Fortunately, there are many repayment strategies available to dentists, including dental loan repayment programs that apply to both federal and private loans.

States with dental loan repayment programs

Many states offer loan repayment options for dentists who serve in vulnerable communities, typically defined as a federally designated dental Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). In general, these programs require a one- to three-year service commitment in order to receive dental student loan forgiveness program benefits.

Note that state programs change frequently. It’s best to search for your state’s program to determine annual eligibility requirements and funding availability.

Alaska

Award Amount: Depends on position (e.g. “regular-fill” vs “very hard-to-fill”)

Alaska provides two loan assistance programs that include dental professionals: SHARP-1 and SHARP-3.

  • SHARP-1 service contracts are for a two-year commitment with an HPSA.
  • SHARP-3 participants must complete a three-year minimum initial contract in an HPSA or rural area. There’s a 12-year lifetime maximum for this program.

Loan repayment and direct incentive payments vary by program, position type and designated tier. Note that dentists are considered Tier 1, and therefore, earn the highest incentive available.

Arizona

Award Amount: Up to $140,000 or more

The Arizona State Loan Repayment Programs (SLRP) award amounts vary based on HPSA score, but qualified dentists can earn up to:

  • $65,000 for initial two-year contract
  • $35,000 for third year
  • $25,000 for fourth year of service
  • $15,000 for fifth year and continuing years

Note that there are two Arizona SLRP programs up for grabs: the Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program and the Rural Private Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program.

California

Award Amount: Up to $110,000

The California State Loan Repayment Program is available to dentists practicing in an HPSA with a two-year service obligation. Service awards include:

  • $50,000 for initial contract
  • $20,000 for first- and second-year extensions
  • $10,000 for third- and fourth-year extensions

Each award is a dollar-for-dollar match from the practice site, so awards may vary.

Colorado

Award Amount: $105,000

Colorado dentists working in an HPSA may be eligible for the Colorado Health Services Corps program. A three-year service commitment is required in exchange for $105,000 loan repayment assistance.

Alternatively, you may qualify for the State Dental Loan Repayment Program by agreeing to provide dental services to underserved patients for two years. The award is based on the number of qualifying patients seen each month: $50,000 for 80+ patients, $37,500 for 60 to 79 patients, $25,000 for 20 to 59 patients.

Delaware

Award Amount: Up to $200,000

The Delaware State Loan Repayment Program is available to dentists who agree to treat a minimum of 20% of patients made up of Medicaid, S-CHIP and low-income individuals at reduced (or free) rates.

A two-year service commitment in an HPSA is required in exchange for up to $100,000 in loan repayment. Continuing contracts earn $50,000 each for years three and four.

Georgia

Award Amount: Up to $100,000

The Dentists for Rural Areas Assistance Program (DRAA) is an option for dentists who provide patient care in medically underserved, rural areas of Georgia.

A one-year service commitment is required, with the option to renew for an additional three years. Each year will yield $25,000 in loan repayment with a lifetime maximum of $100,000.

Idaho

Award Amount: Up to $50,000

Idaho dentists may be eligible for the Idaho State Loan Repayment Program which provides $10,000 to $25,000 per year, depending on the employer’s contribution match.

A two-year service obligation is required in an HPSA.

Illinois

Award Amount: Up to $50,000

The Illinois SLRP requires a two-year service commitment in an HPSA in exchange for up to $25,000 per year (depending on site contribution match) in loan forgiveness.

Third- and fourth-year extensions are available, but there’s a maximum repayment amount of $50,000.

Indiana

Award Amount: Up to $40,000

General practice dentists may qualify for the Indiana State Loan Repayment Program by agreeing to work in a public or nonprofit setting in an HPSA. Service awards include:

  • $20,000 for initial two-year obligation
  • $20,000 for two-year extension

Indiana SLRP aims to award 30 contracts each year. However, this goal includes all qualifying professions.

Kansas

Award Amount: Up to $95,000

Kansas SLRP participants may be eligible for up to $95,000 in student loan repayment by agreeing to full-time service in an HPSA in the state. Service awards include:

  • $25,000 per year for initial two-year obligation
  • $20,000 for third year extension
  • $15,000 for fourth year
  • $10,000 for fifth year

Note that there are different qualifying hours (e.g. direct patient care) for general dentists versus pediatric dentists.

Kentucky

Award Amount: Up to $80,000

The Kentucky SLRP recruits dentists to work in rural and underserved facilities by providing two-year service obligations in exchange for up to $80,000 in student debt repayment.

Louisiana

Award Amount: Up to $114,000

The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program allows for dentists to receive up to $30,000 annually in loan repayment in exchange for a three-year commitment in an HPSA. A two-year extension may be available for an additional $12,000 annually.

Maine

Award Amount: $100,000

Dentists practicing in underserved areas of Maine may qualify for the Maine Dental Education Loan Repayment Program. New recipients will receive $25,000 in loan repayment per year with an initial two-year contract, with the opportunity to renew for an additional two years for a maximum of $100,000.

Qualifying dental facilities must accept payment through MaineCare and 25% of the patient population must be treated regardless of ability to pay.

Maryland

Award Amount: Up to $71,220

The Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program (MDC-LARP) allows dentists to receive up to $23,740 per year in loan repayment, with a maximum of three years of service.

You must agree to ensure at least 30% of your patient population is Maryland Medical Assistance Program (MMAP) recipients.

Massachusetts

Award Amount: Up to $100,000

Massachusetts SLRP participants must agree to an initial two-year service obligation in a federally designated HPSA in exchange for $25,000 per year of student debt repayment.

Note that there’s a lifetime maximum of $100,000.

Michigan

Award Amount: Up to $200,000

Michigan dental providers may qualify to have up to $200,000 of student debt repaid over an eight-year period with an HPSA-eligible site.

Each Michigan LRP contract is for a two-year period with 40- to 45-hour weeks. Note that “on call” hours don’t count toward the full-time requirement.

Minnesota

Award Amount: Up to $20,000 per year

The Minnesota State Loan Repayment Program requires a two-year service commitment in nonprofit or public sites located in an HPSA.

Full-time providers are eligible for up to $20,000 in loan repayment annually, while half-time providers (minimum of 20 hours per week) qualify for up to $10,000 per year.

Missouri

Award Amount: Up to $50,000 per year

Missouri’s Health Professional Student Loan Repayment Program awards up to $50,000 per year in loan repayment to eligible dentists. However, you must be a Missouri resident and willing to commit to an initial two-year service obligation in an HPSA.

Montana

Award Amount: Up to $60,000

The Montana Student Loan Repayment Program awards dentists up to $15,000 per year with an initial two-year contract at a National Health Service Corps (NHSC) site in an HPSA.

Depending on your student debt amount and funding availability, you might qualify for two one-year extensions.

Nebraska

Award Amount: Up to $180,000 to $200,000

Practicing dentists in Nebraska may qualify for one of its two student loan repayment programs. Each qualifying dental specialty (e.g. general dentistry, pediatric and oral surgery) has a convenient map to explore eligible sites.

Depending on the repayment program, contract periods range from two to four years with maximum forgiveness of $180,000 to $200,000 for dentists.

Nevada

Award Amount: Based upon funding each cycle

The Nevada Health Service Corps generally offers two-year service obligations to dentists working in underrepresented communities.

New Hampshire

Award Amount: Up to $75,000

The Private Practice Dentists State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP-PPD) is available to New Hampshire private practice dentists. You must agree to serve a minimum of 15% of Medicaid patients and commit to a three-year service obligation.

New Mexico

Award Amount: Up to $25,000 per year

The New Mexico Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP) offers two-year dental service obligations in a designated medical shortage area. Note you must be a New Mexico resident for the past 12 months to qualify.

North Carolina

Award Amount: Up to $100,000

The North Carolina Loan Repayment Program (NC LRP) offers up to $100,000 in exchange for up to a four-year dental service commitment in rural and underserved communities. They also offer a high needs service bonus (HNSB) for those who don’t have remaining student debt, but this direct payment incentive is capped at $50,000.

North Dakota

Award Amount: Up to $100,000

The North Dakota Loan Repayment Program is available to dentists willing to provide services for up to five years in a dental HPSA, a public health or nonprofit clinic, or in an identified area where specialty services are needed.

Payments are made at the completion of each 12-month period, with a maximum repayment of $100,000.

Ohio

Award Amount: Up to $120,000

The Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program provides up to $120,000 in loan repayment for dentists who practice in an HPSA, treat Medicaid patients and provide care to patients regardless of ability to pay. Service awards include:

  • $25,000 per year for the initial two-year contract
  • $35,000 for a third year
  • $35,000 for a fourth year

Part-time participants (20 to 39 hours per week) receive up to half the amount of repayment.

Oklahoma

Award Amount: Up to $125,000

The Oklahoma Dental Loan Repayment Program (ODLRP) is available for up to 25 Oklahoma licensed dentists for up to five years per participant. However, you must have graduated from dental school in the past five years to qualify.

Eligible dentists receive $25,000 per year in repayment in exchange for working in a designated shortage area and ensuring at least 30% of patients are Medicaid recipients.

Oregon

Award Amount: Up to $100,000

With a two-year service commitment, dentists can earn up to $35,000 of loan repayment through the Oregon Partnership SLRP. Additional service extension awards are calculated as up to 60% of the provider’s remaining student debt ($35,000 maximum).

Note that there’s a $100,000 lifetime maximum.

Pennsylvania

Award Amount: Up to $80,000

General dentists may qualify for the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program (LRP). You must agree to work in an HPSA or serve a minimum of 30% of low-income patients at an LRP-approved site for two years.

South Carolina

Award Amount: Up to $75,000

South Carolina dental professionals may qualify for the state’s Rural Dentist Program by agreeing to practice in an HPSA for four years. Providers must treat at least 100 Medicaid patients each year.

Service awards up to $75,000 are paid out quarterly.

South Dakota

Award Amount: $248,098

The South Dakota Rural Assistance Program (RAP) is available to dentists willing to serve in a rural community with less than 10,000 residents and at least 20 miles outside of a city with more than 50,000 people.

Dentists will receive a payment incentive of $248,098. However, this program is extremely limited. The website lists there is only one slot available for each qualifying profession.

Tennessee

Award Amount: Up to $50,000 for initial contract + up to $20,000 for renewal extension

The Tennessee State Loan Repayment Program requires a two-year dental service obligation in an HPSA in exchange for up to $50,000. You can reapply for up to $20,000 per year until your student debt is paid off (contingent upon funding).

Vermont

Award Amount: Up to $40,000 per year (six-year maximum)

The Vermont Educational Loan Repayment Program for Dentists provides up to $40,000 (depending on employer or community match) per year for serving in an HPSA.

Some service contracts are limited to one year, while retention award recipients may require up to two years. Reapplication is required with a maximum of six years’ worth of loan repayment.

Virginia

Award Amount: Up to $140,000

The Virginia Student Loan Repayment Program is available to dentists in a designated HPSA with a minimum two-year commitment. Service awards include:

  • Up to $100,000 for initial obligation
  • Up to $40,000 for third year
  • Maximum of $40,000 for fourth year

Note that funding is a dollar-for-dollar match dependent on the practice site contribution. The lifetime maximum from all funding sources is $140,000.

Washington

Award Amount: Up to $75,000

Dental professionals in Washington might qualify for the State Health Program (SHP) with a minimum three-year service obligation in an HPSA, nonprofit or a preapproved site with a sliding fee schedule.

Note there is also a separate Federal Health Program (FHP) that allows for up to $70,000 in loan repayment in exchange for a two-year commitment in an HPSA.

West Virginia

Award Amount: Up to $90,000

The West Virginia State Loan Repayment Program is available to dentists serving in an HPSA with a two-year commitment. Service awards include:

  • $40,000 for initial obligation
  • $25,000 for one-year extension
  • $25,000 for additional one-year extension

Applications are open from March 1 through April 30 each year.

Wisconsin

Award Amount: Up to $100,000

Dentists have access to two Wisconsin loan assistance programs: The Health Professions Loan Assistant Program (HPLAP) and the Rural Provider Loan Assistance Program.

  • HPLAP recipients must agree to work for three years in an HPSA community.
  • The Rural Provider Loan Assistance Program allows for an additional award for those who work in a rural area (population less than 20,000 and at least 15 miles from any city), regardless of whether it’s in an HSPA.

Each program allows for up to $50,000 in repayment assistance. As of January 2021, you’re limited to two lifetime awards.

Other loan repayment options for dentists

Although some state dental loan repayment programs are very generous, most have limited funding opportunities which can make it a competitive process. Additionally, you risk breaching the terms of your contract if you fail to begin or complete your service obligation for any reason. This could mean repaying a large chunk of money for any unfulfilled service period or incurring other financial penalties.

Many of these state loan repayment programs also require that you’re not contracted under any other existing service commitment. So, you could be missing out on a more beneficial dental student loan forgiveness program.

Aside from state dental loan repayment programs, be sure to also explore dental school loan forgiveness and repayment options like:

  • National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
  • National Institute of Health Loan Repayment Program
  • VA Education Debt Reduction Program
  • Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
  • Income-driven repayment programs

It’s important to explore all of your options before committing to dental loan repayment programs — especially if you plan on moving or rearranging your entire life to access loan repayment assistance.






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