It’s a common problem in America. To find gainful employment, you need a good education. And to get a good education, you’ll spend a lot of money. Even scholarships only go so far, so most students eventually acquire some student loan debt.
Architects carry some of the steepest debt of any students in any area of study, according to Architect Magazine. But the National Design Services Act might offer relief. If, of course, it survives this time.
How Much Debt Architects Really Carry
Student loan debt has become one of the biggest financial problems that Americans face. Aside from a home mortgage, it’s also the most expensive debt, outweighing vehicle loans, credit cards, and all other types of ordinary household debt.
The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) says that on average, architects graduate with about $40,000 in undergraduate student loan debt. This is higher than the debt for many other fields. And for a post-graduate degree, the amount jumps to over $70,000.
Why Student Loan Relief Matters
Architects aren’t just in business for themselves, nor does their work only affect a client. Nearly everything that an architect touches affects the lives of many people, often whole communities. AIAS explains that there’s also the “economic multiplier effect,” where their work is the beginning of a long chain of work for other design and construction professionals.
When architects carry a heavy student loan debt, it impairs the job potential for a long line of others who ultimately work on a project. It makes pursuing projects more difficult, which, in turn, makes employing others less likely. Further, the work of architects benefits so many on such a wide scale, from accessibility and function to simple beauty. It’s difficult to measure the full effect of any single project on the entire community.
How the Act Proposes to Help
The National Design Services Act was written by the AIA and the AIAS and first introduced to Congress in 2014. Obviously, it didn’t succeed on its first attempt. The bill proposes similar student debt relief to that of other professionals, such as physicians and educators. The student would receive assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in exchange for community service, such as agreeing to work in under-served communities.
Qualifying projects might include schools, medical centers, libraries, and housing, says Architect Magazine. And for every year that an architect works on such projects, HUD would apply a payment either directly toward the student’s loan balances or offer internship grants.
Architects live in a mysterious world, at least to the everyday outsider. They enjoy a high level of respect, but a lot of people aren’t really sure why. And they aren’t sure why because they aren’t clear about what architects do.
This Act helps clarify the importance of architecture not just for designing the next high rise office or apartment building, but also for public spaces, hospitals, schools, and other structures that benefit whole communities. Student debt relief helps architects do what they do best. And if the Act passes this time, more students may decide to join the ranks to become the next generation of architects who literally shape America.
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