U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) has re-introduced the National Design Services Act (NDSA) to provide architecture students relief from loan debt in return for community service. This bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Dennis Ross (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Brad Ashford (D-NE), Rick Nolan (D-MN) and Gwen Moore (D-WI),will help alleviate student loan debt for thousands of aspiring architects to promote sustainable job growth in our communities. Similar programs have been implemented for lawyers, doctors, teachers and other professions.
“Student loan debt can be a major barrier for students pursuing their careers and dream jobs. The NDSA will help alleviate some of those barriers while promoting sustainable economic development and ensuring aspiring architects gain valuable experience while giving back to their communities designing public projects such as schools, health clinics, housing facilities and libraries,” said Rep. Perlmutter.
On average, newly licensed architects graduate with $40,000 in student loans after at least five years of education and training before receiving a license.
The NDSA establishes a loan repayment program within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for participating architects who provide at least one year of service to a “community design center”. Community design centers are non-profit entities established by veteran architects typically in underserved areas. As non-profit entities, the centers help promote change in neighborhoods and to regional scale plans.
“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,” said AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA. “As a result, the design and construction industry faces a severe shortage of talent, at exactly the moment America needs to start rebuilding for the future."
New architects will gain experience while giving back to their communities by donating their skills to public projects. Other eligible services include:
· Developing long-range community development plans in business districts and other economic redevelopment areas;
· Providing design and architectural plans for rehabilitation of blighted or deteriorating neighborhoods;
· Designing plans for preserving or rehabilitating historic sites;
· Developing construction documents for building retrofits for energy and water efficiency and conservation improvements;
· Assessing the safety of structures in need of repair due to natural disasters; or
· Creating architectural plans to remove barriers restricting the mobility of elderly and disabled individuals.