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National Design Services Act

Last month I talked about how companies can give back to the community, which ties in nicely with this week's topic on architecture students doing community service in return for student loan debt relief.

Back in March, the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) committed to passing the National Design Services Act (NDSA), which will give architecture students the same relief from crushing student loan debt, which is already granted young lawyers, doctors and others-in return for community service.

H.R. 4205 is bipartisan legislation that was introduced on Tuesday, 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).

In a press release announcing the new bill, AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, said: "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. 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."

Additionally, Rep. Perlmutter said: "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. In return, the bill will alleviate some of the barriers new students face as they pursue their dreams in architecture."

With the cost of colleges rising each year, many students now and in the future, will be faced with an enormous amount of student debt. Current statistics show that roughly 40 million Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, which surpasses every other debt except for mortgages. I know that my husband and I will be continuing to pay off our student loans for the foreseeable future, and most of the ones that we have are mine from going to graduate school after receiving my undergraduate degree at a private college.

After graduation, architecture students have approximately $40,000 in student loan debt, making architecture one of the disciplines with the highest loan balances in the country. The NDSa will provide loan assistance to students and recent graduates who contribute their design services to underserved areas. It will authorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create a program for architecture students to work with Community Design Centers in exchange for assistance with their student loans.

There is an online petition enlisting the support of architects nationwide for speedy passage of NDSA. For more information on the NDSA and how to become involved, click here.

What do you think of this proposed bill? Do you think it's a good idea to help ease student loan debt by performing community service? Do you wish this was available when you graduated school? I know if something like this was available when I graduated, I definitely would have taken advantage of it.

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