One new dentist trimmed $80,000 from his student loans by treating patients at a nonprofit clinic in an underserved and rural area for four years.

Thanks to a state-based financial aid program, Dr. Timothy Oh, of Ellsworth, Maine, who graduated from dental school in 2008, was able to reduce the more than $300,000 he owed in student debt.

He shares insight on the FAME program with, along with his experience with consolidating federal loans for convenience sake. One loan, one loan servicer, one payment and one place to file forms not only provides convenience, but also also allows borrowers to convert former nondirect loans to direct loans which are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

The American Dental Association blog reviews the possible drawbacks with loan consolidation (a 60-90 day process, potential for a slightly higher interest rate and loss of grace periods on loans) and reviews the pros and cons of refinancing as well, in the blog.

Federal options for loan repayment assistance, often in exchange for services in a health care shortage area, include programs sponsored by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Veteran Affairs, U.S. Public Health Service, National Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service and more.

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