Access to dental care is an issue for many South Dakotans, especially for underserved populations and those in rural communities.
Our Loan Repayment for Service Program provides financial assistance for student loan repayment to new dentists who agree to serve a selected percentage of Medicaid-insured patients in their practice.
Dentists can receive up to $125,000 in financial assistance over five years, plus another $5,000 in bonus opportunities each year. Applications are due by November 1 each year.
The program increases access to dental care for all South Dakotans by supporting a robust dental workforce and securing opportunities for care for low-income patients. Since the program began in 2004, 74 dentists have participated in the loan repayment program.
- Be fully trained and licensed in South Dakota (or in process of becoming licensed in SD);
- Have loan balances that are part of the original student loan (not combined with other personal loans);
- Be willing to fulfill the required service agreement;
- Plan to work a minimum of 32 hours per week;
- Participate in the SD Medicaid program;
- Agree to be credentialed by Delta Dental of South Dakota; and
- Be a U.S. citizen and South Dakota resident.
Dentists who are considered employees must have approval from their employer to participate in the program.
Dentists with an existing service obligation in return for scholarship, loan forgiveness, or tuition reimbursement are not eligible to apply. However, when such service obligations have been satisfied, and if the dentist still has remaining loans, he or she may then apply to this program.
Applicants must select one of the following service obligations/loan repayment options:
- For loan repayments of $15,000 per year, up to a total of $75,000 over five years, a dentist must agree to see 15% Medicaid patients in his or her practice.
- In addition, recipient dentists must agree to accept one patient/case per award year from the Donated Dental Services Program (operated by the SD Dental Foundation) or an approved alternative.
- For loan repayments of $25,000 per year, up to a total of $125,000 over five years, a dentist must agree to see 30% Medicaid patients in his or her practice.
- In addition, recipient dentists must agree to accept two patients/cases per award year from the Donated Dental Services Program (operated by the SD Dental Foundation) or an approved alternative.
Loan recipients providing 1,000 or more Medicaid patient visits per year will be eligible to receive an additional $5,000 per year toward their loan and are exempt from the Donated Dental Services program requirement.
- November 1: Application due
- December 15: Applicant notified of award status
- January 1: Program start date (first loan payment disbursed during first quarter)
Award recipients will sign a legally binding contract stating they will uphold their obligations to the program. The Delta Dental of South Dakota Foundation will make an annual payment toward the recipient’s designated loan. The recipient will sign a Forgivable Note that states the recipient’s loan will be forgiven if the service obligation has been met.
Recipients will be required to report quarterly on their obligation. Assuming service obligations are being met, recipients have the option to continue their participation in the program annually, with a commitment not to exceed five years.
Failure to fulfill commitment
If a participant fails to fulfill the service commitment as specified in the original contract, the recipient should contact Delta Dental to discuss an amendment to the agreement to include options for meeting the service obligation. If the optional service obligations are not fulfilled, the recipient will need to repay the Delta Dental of South Dakota Foundation within six months of the end of the contract year.
Qualified loans include government, commercial and foundation loans for actual costs paid for tuition, reasonable education expenses, and reasonable living expenses related to the graduate or undergraduate education of a dentist from an accredited school of dentistry. Home equity, business or personal loans from individuals do not qualify.