MANSFIELD -- Mansfield is one of the 11 best small cities for dentists with high student loan debt, according to a recent article by Student Loan Planner.
Mansfield ranked ninth on the list that considered factors like the dentist population ratio, average dental salary, the value of every $100 per state, population and proximity to a dental school.
To make the list, most cities needed to be within an hour drive of a dental school or major airport and have a population relatively stable or increasing population of about 50,000 to 200,000.
“A lot of people will move anywhere if they hear there’s an opportunity to pay back their student loan debt easier,” said Travis Hornsby, founder of Student Loan Planner and author of the article, “11 Best Small Cities for Dentists With Big Student Loan Debt.”
He recognized that Mansfield has declined in population since 2010, but the rate of decline, he said, was slow enough that it still made the cut.
To create the list, he started by identifying 50 percent of the least saturated cities with dentists and ranked them by real dental income.
The top 11 moved to the next stage. Its real dental income was reported as $155,391, and its number of dentists per 100,000 people was reported as 52. The national average is 61 dentists per 100,000 people.
“After coming up with our list of 11 states, we decided to choose one city from each one of the most attractive states to practice dentistry,” Hornsby said.
He explained that competition drives profits down, so it's often more beneficial for dentists to work outside of large cities, away from dental schools and airports.
“I learned the airport rule from listening to a half dozen different dental podcasts. For whatever reason, being a fair distance away from major inner-city hubs seems to be good for business as a dentist,” Hornsby said.
Through Student Loan Planner, he’s interviewed more than 1,600 individuals with high student-loan debt, including about 400 dentists, he estimated.
Based on the data collected, he predicted Mansfield might be a good place for others with high student loan debt, too.
“Mansfield could be a good place for anyone with a lot of student loan debt, especially in health care … based on the cost of living,” he said, mentioning pharmacists specifically.
Further, he looked to cities that people who are millennials might find attractive.
“Mansfield has an impressive performing arts scene for its size, with a symphony, opera and community theater,” he said.
Later, he added, its proximity to Cleveland and Columbus could also be a draw.
“It is in an attractive geographical location,” he said.
Number one on the list was Parkersburg, West Virginia. It’s described as a two-hour drive from Columbus, in the western part of the state. It has reportedly one of West Virginia’s highest per capita incomes of $18,076, and population loss since 2010 is around 1.9 percent, marking a stabilization in the population for the area.
Note: The population totals mentioned in the article by Student Loan Planner include the city (such as Mansfield) and some surrounding areas.