The high cost of dental education and consequent loan burdens contribute to the shortage of pediatric dental providers in rural areas (RAs). Economic incentives are meant to recruit practitioners to RAs. The aim of this study was to assess the ability of government subsidized loan repayment programs (GSLRPs) to recruit pediatric specialists to practice in RAs. A 26-item questionnaire was emailed to all 921 pediatric dental residents across the U.S. in 2015 for a cross-sectional study of factors influencing their choice of practice location. The instrument included information about GSLRPs, enabling the study to serve as a quasi-experiment on the level of funding needed to make GSLRPs effective. A total of 169 residents responded, for an 18% response rate; 74% of respondents were women and 86% had student loan debt. Among the respondents, 40.6% said they would like to practice in RAs, but only 4.1% actually intended to do so. Over one-third initially reported interest in GSLRPs for practicing in RAs. However, after being informed that the average GSLRP is $30,000 annually, one-third of those lost interest. Although 14.2% said no amount would convince them to consider practice in an RA, over half (53.3%) indicated willingness to consider it if the GSLRP were $40,000-$60,000. These results suggest that current GSLRP levels are insufficient to induce pediatric dentists to practice in RAs.