The AAO, along with the orthodontists and dentists in Florida, helped secure funding for dental student loan repayment in the state.

In collaboration with the Florida Association of Orthodontists (FAO) and the Florida Dental Association (FDA), the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) helped secure $2 million of recurring, sustainable funding for dental student loan repayment in Florida.

The Florida Reimbursement Assistance for Medical Education program (FRAME, otherwise known as the Dental Student Loan Repayment Program) encourages dentists and orthodontists to serve the Medicaid population in dental health professional shortage areas and medically underserved areas throughout Florida.

In exchange for the provider’s commitment, the program provides $50,000 in financial assistance per year for up to 5 years to go toward repayment of dental student loans ($250,000 in eligible funds to qualified candidates for their student loan repayments).

The average student loan debt for orthodontists completing residency is over $560,000, according to the AAO. The FRAME program allows students to consider service to the community ahead of the financial burdens of student loan repayment, which ensures opportunity and improved access to quality dental care to Floridian communities.

Following the program’s creation in 2019, it had been previously authorized by the state government, but never funded, and so the AAO and other stakeholders continued advocating for appropriation.

The AAO thanked the many FAO members who took grassroots actions, by reaching out to lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate and then contacting the Governor to advocate for the program to be funded.

The program allows for better dental care access while also investing in Florida’s dental workforce. Additionally, this repayment program provides a unique support solution for orthodontists carrying student loan debt.

The program also provides a model that advocates, including the AAO, hope to implement in other states. The AAO will be able to share this program with other states as a model for expanding access to quality care, workforce enhancement and community development through orthodontists and dentists serving in medically underserved rural and urban areas.

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