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Architects Support Students’ Call for Pro Bono Work in Exchange for Loan Relief

AIA Position

The AIA is committed to advocating on behalf of the architecture student community to address the financial burdens imposed on students from crushing student loan debt. The AIA urges Congress to pass legislation that provides student debt relief to graduating architecture students in exchange for pro bono work in distressed communities.


Architecture students are graduating with decidedly high loan balances that affect professional competitiveness in the short and long term. This causes many graduates to leave architecture programs, depriving the country of the professionals who will design and retrofit the next generation of buildings.

A recent poll conducted by the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) of 600 architecture school graduates revealed the extent of the problem. Respondents had an average of $40,000 in accumulated debt after graduation, as well as many unexpected costs specific to their architectural training. These costs included more than $1,000 annually on materials for models and project submissions, $800 on text books and technology spending, accounting for a total of $1,500 a year in additional accumulated debt.

In a challenging economic climate where jobs for architecture graduates are scarce, there is a real danger that many graduates will leave the profession, potentially depriving the country of an entire generation of design professionals. It is crucial that not only architecture students, but the entire profession, get involved in the debate over student loan funding and continue advocating for policies that keep architecture graduates active in the profession and serving their communities.

That is why the AIA and the AIAS launched a campaign in 2012 to urge Congress to include architecture school graduates in the same programs that offer other graduates loan debt assistance if they donate their services to their communities and elsewhere.

Useful Links

National Design Services Act Advocacy Toolkit

AIAS Financial Survey of Architecture Students

Department of Education Resources on Student Loan Repayment


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