Congressional representatives have introduced bipartisan legislation that would give architecture graduates student loan debt relief in exchange for community service. The National Design Services Act (NDSA) — introduced March 11 by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and co-sponsored by Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) — would allow architecture students and graduates to contribute their design services to underserved areas through Community Design Centers across the U.S. In return, young architects would receive assistance with their education loans while providing help that otherwise may not have been available to these communities.
"The National Design Services Act will help promote sustainable economic development and jobs by ensuring aspiring architects are able to gain valuable experience while giving back to their communities designing public projects such as schools, health clinics, housing facilities, and libraries,” Rep. Perlmutter said in a statement.
According to a 2012 survey conducted by the American Institute of Architecture Students
(AIAS), students graduating with bachelor degrees in architecture owe an average of $42,300 in federal and private loans. Those with a Master of Architecture have another $30,000 tacked on. The loan amounts do not include additional expenses that architecture students often face, such as materials for models and project submissions.
The American Institute of Architects
(AIA) and the AIAS have pledged their full support of the legislation. “Millions of young people aspire to help their communities build a better future, but a lack of opportunity and the crushing cost of education hold them back,” AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, said. “As a result, the design and construction industry faces a severe shortage of talent at exactly the moment America needs to rebuild for the future.”
“There is no shortage of enthusiasm in our membership for passing this bill,” added Joshua Caulfield, CEO of AIAS. “And we intend to leverage that enthusiasm to the hilt as we go forward and call on our members of Congress.”
At a recent meeting of AIAS Milwaukee-Wisconsin, architecture students organized a phone bank for students to call their congressional representatives and urge support of the bill. An online petition
also enlists the support of architects nationwide.
For more information on the NDSA and how to become involved, click here