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Strategic Financial Management Helps Young Orthodontists Limit and Reduce Loan Debt

The heavy burden of student loans carried by the typical new orthodontic graduate creates a variety of challenges and may limit career choices for some. The AAO found four young orthodontists, however, who all identified multiple solutions that helped them overcome many debt-related financial obstacles. Here are summaries of the “Student Debt Superstars’” stories:

Canada Native Knows His Financial Boundaries: As a Canadian, Dr. Matthew Ng had limited eligibility for loans to study in the United States, where he completed dental school and his orthodontic residency. Completing his residency with $105,000 in total debt, Dr. Ng paid off his debt in two years after completing his residency in 2004.
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Tackling Debt Head-On Has Its Rewards: As an undergraduate, Dr. Trista Felty improved her performance as a member of the Villanova University varsity swim team so that by her senior year, she had a full athletic scholarship. While in dental school and orthodontic residency, Dr. Felty utilized a variety of financial management strategies to continue limiting her student loans. Her resourcefulness helped hold her total debt to $56,000.
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The Fast Track to Financial Freedom:  High interest rates on student loans caused this young orthodontist to accumulate more than $70,000 in interest and total debt of $525,000 as a dental student and orthodontic resident. He paid off 50 percent of his debt over three years after graduating in 2014, helped by refinancing and a property sale. He also challenged the conventional wisdom that heavy student debt means one cannot buy a practice soon after graduation.
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Sticking to the Plan Pays Off:  Since graduating from his orthodontic residency in 2006, this doctor has reduced his $185,000 in total student loan debt to less than one-third of the original amount. He planned his payments to focus on the higher-interest residency loan first while consolidating and refinancing other loans.
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More about Student Loan Debt

♦ Access an AAO Business of Orthodontics webinar, “Student Loans: Controlling the Cash Flow,” by Andrew Tucker, JD, CPA, CFP® (free to AAO members).

♦ Through AAO Services’ endorsement agreement with SoFi (Social Finance, Inc.), members may be able to lower their student loan debt by consolidating and refinancing their loans.  
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♦ AAO leaders have helped lead efforts to advocate with Congress for student debt legislation designed to reduce the debt load among young orthodontic graduates.
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