News for members of the American Student Dental Association
May 2013
In the Loupe  

Game of Loans            


By Andrew Smith,   

governance and advocacy manager      


In the summer of 2007, I walked into the financial aid office at DePaul University. I had been accepted into a graduate program and while I was excited to begin in the fall, I was uncertain how to pay for it. Friends were subsidizing their law school tuition via parents, summer associateships and significant student loans. My then-girlfriend (now wife) was one year into her grad program. Her extensive knowledge of obtaining funding was helpful, even comforting. I figured with a part-time job and some loans, this was manageable. According to the financial aid advisor, it would be.


I want to be clear, I wasn't deceived. When you sign up to borrow tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, it's your responsibility to understand the terms. I understood the parameters of my loans and had a plan for repayment with a few possibilities for forgiveness. I easily secured a loan for tuition along with a grad plus and I was able to supplement income with a grad assistantship. The degree would take two years.


One year into the degree, I was working an unpaid internship (actually, it was for credit so I was technically paying to work) and heading to Ireland to take two courses abroad. Parallel to these valuable and yet costly ventures, the great recession broke. Had this happened a year prior, I might have rethought this choice (although I doubt I would have arrived at a different decision), but I was one year in-halfway there. I had to keep going. My singular focus for the second year shifted from school to finding a job. I heard that under ideal conditions, the average job search takes about six months. These were less than ideal circumstances. Peers were hiding out in other grad programs, waiting for things to improve. That's not a terrible strategy, but I was about to be forced out by means of graduation.


If you owe the bank $100 that's your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem. Hyperbole aside, my student debt (while slightly daunting) is manageable. My wife and I hold three graduate degrees between us (bragging rights to her) and we have the debt to prove it. Just like all ASDA members, we recognize the value of this education. But we're continuously hearing that students are taking on more debt than they can handle; that they're being duped into high interest rates and don't understand the basic elements of their loans. Knowing the economic and political climate surrounding these loans is important. On July 1, 2013, the extension of the 3.4 percent interest rate for undergraduate Subsidized Stafford Loans will expire-graduate or professional students can only receive Unsubsidized Stafford Loans at 6.8 percent. This is a simple fact, but being aware of it is critical to how we plan for our financial futures.  


ASDA's continued focus on student debt is not just part of my position description, it's a genuine and shared concern. This is the most rewarding part of my job: pursuing an issue for which I have a vested stake and knowing the outcome will have a lasting impact on both of us.
Member and faculty/administration spotlight 
Meet this month's student and faculty members to learn their unique hobbies, reasons for pursuing dentistry and more. For their full profile, click here.

Kyle Kirk
Kentucky '16

Most embarrassing song on your iPod: "A Whole New World" from Aladdin. I had to sing it in a karaoke contest as a freshman in undergrad and it is still on there. And I sing it loudly every time it comes on.  

Jack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH

Inaugural Dean at AT Still University School of Dentistry & Oral Health 


Words of wisdom for future dentists: Please know that dentistry only begins with the teeth and mouth. The person attached to the tooth, the family attached to the person and ultimately the community attached to that family need to be the beneficiaries of the skills and compassion of the future dentist.  

Ryan Turner Memorial Scholarship - apply by July 1   
Ryan Turner was a fourth year dental student at the University of Michigan and a former board member when he passed away suddenly in 2007. ASDA remembers Ryan Turner and his dedication to organized dentistry through an annual memorial scholarship in his honor. The recipient will be chosen by the board of trustees and will receive $2,500, along with travel expenses to accept the award at the 2013 National Leadership Conference. The recipient's chapter will also receive $500. To apply, submit the following via e-mail to by July 1:
  • Application 
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Academic letter of good standing from your dean (may be faxed to 312-440-2820)
  • One letter of recommendation (from a professor, administrator or ASDA member)
Your new national leaders (and what they do for you)  

Last month, 45 ASDA national leaders met in Chicago for training and to dive into council work. Get to know who's working on your behalf and what they'll be doing this year. If you've got an idea for a project or initiative, reach out to the council or work group chair. They'd love to hear from you!

ASDA's 2013-14 national leaders met in Chicago, April 28-29.
Search ASDA publications by topic
Each issue of ASDA News and Mouth is online as a digital publication. That means:
  • You could search by keywords using the binoculars icon. For example: Type in phrases like "midlevel providers" or "student debt" to see all of the articles on those topics.
  • You can forward links to classmates, patients, professors and anyone else who is interested in what you do.

Update on ASDA member benefits  

ASDA no longer has an agreement with THE NEXT DDS to offer their services as a benefit of membership. Check out this list of current ASDA member benefits.

ADA reduced dues for recent graduates   

Through the Reduced Dues Program, the ADA portion of your dues is $0 your first year after dental school! Most state and local societies offer similar reductions.  

After dental school, your ADA dues are:

  • Year 1 - $0
  • Year 2 - 25% of full active dues
  • Year 3 - 50% of full active dues
  • Year 4 - 75% of full active dues
  • Year 5 and thereafter - 100% of full active dues

Continuing your education? Join the ADA directly for just $30 per year as a graduate student member. The Reduced Dues Program goes "on hold" until you enter practice. Learn more and apply today at

Benefit of the month 


As an ASDA member, you receive exclusive discounts with Medical Protective, the nation's leader in dental malpractice insurance.

MedPro offers:

  • Occurrence and claims-made coverage
  • Pure consent to settle: no claim will be settled without the dentist's consent
  • Unmatched financial strength and stability from a company defending dentists since 1899

Contact your MedPro dental team for more details at  

800-463-3776 x 3536 or e-mail 

Visit for more information. 

*Product availability varies upon business and regulatory approval.

Upcoming Events
Nov. 15-17, 2013
National Leadership Conference
Chicago, IL
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Quote of the Month

"Math is the language of the universe. So the more equations you know, the more you can converse with the cosmos."

-Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson



Erin Kato, member relations specialist | 312-440-2640
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