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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Academics & Research

Committee encourages bill to ease architecture student loan debt


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The National Design Services Act would allow architecture students to enroll in loan repayment programs while working in community design centers in shortage situations and other purposes. Above, architecture sophomore Paul Nguyen is working on a finals project on 3D operations. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Architecture students nationwide are seeking the introduction of a bill that would allow them to participate in community design centers in exchange for student loan assistance.

The National Design Services Act is a bill promoted by the American Institute of Architects to help students with their finances while they work to improve communities across the United States.

Fourth-year architecture student Sarah Killingsworth sits on the American Institute of Architecture Students Advocacy committee, which is the national student organization responsible for much of the student voice behind this legislation.

“While we have an excellent architecture program here at the University of Houston, student loan debt is rising drastically,” Killingsworth said.

“I know that I don’t want to let my student loan debt prevent me from making the best choices for my career once I graduate, but the reality is that high debt can mean many young designers delay their licensure process because of the cost in money and time. This bill is meant to keep talent in the profession by giving our recent graduates more opportunities to manage their loan debt and use their design abilities for the betterment of undeserved communities.”

The federal government encourages similar student loan aid for programs in accredited professions such as medicine, law and veterinary medicine. Architecture is also a profession that requires an accredited degree, with 7 tests in applicable areas and 5,600 hours of intern time under a licensed architect.

“A survey conducted by AIA in 2013 stated that 55 percent of architecture students accrued over $40,000 in student loan debt during their terms in college and that 60 percent of architecture students are worried that they will have to leave the field of architecture because of it,” third-year architecture student and UH AIAS Treasurer Weston Berry said. “While I myself have served my country and am receiving help through the GI Bill, I see my fellow architecture students struggling profusely with their debt during school and worrying about how to pay student loans after school. They deserve a similar opportunity to serve their country in an applicable way and through the design field that they have grown to love.”

Architecture students at UH are big supporters of the bill, since it would not only aid them with their finances but also help them gain experience in their field.

“I feel like architecture students always have to spend a lot more money on art supplies, plotting and model building for our presentations,” fifth-year architecture student Patti Lee said. “I think the act is a good idea to allow the students involvement in real life projects to gain more experience but at the same time can still lighten up our burden on government loans.”

AIAS invites anyone who supports the bill to sign the petition to enact this legislation. The petition can be found at change.org, keyword NDSA.

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