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The National Design Services Act (NDSA) and Architecture

By Shervan Sebastian, Manager, Federal Relations

Student debt is one of the most critical issues facing the next generation of design professionals. The average architecture student graduates with approximately $40,000 in student loan debt, ranking architecture as one of the disciplines with the highest loan balances in the country.

That is why the AIA and the AIAS have developed legislation that eases the burden by providing loan assistance to architecture students and recent graduates who contribute their design services to underserved areas.

More than 800 AIA leaders brought the bill, titled The National Designs Services Act, to their representatives in the House and Senate as a part of the Grassroots Legislative and Leadership Conference last month.

The NDSA attempts to accomplish a handful of goals, simply and effectively. The bill would authorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create a program allowing architecture students to work with Community Design Centers in exchange for assistance with their student loans. As a result, communities will receive a broad range of architecture services that may not have otherwise been available, and architecture graduates will be induced to stay in the profession.

At a recent meeting of AIAS Milwaukee-Wisconsin where AIA National staff discussed the proposal, architecture students immediately began organizing a phone bank for students to call their members of Congress to urge them to support the bill.

For more information on the NDSA, and how to encourage your member of Congress to support it, please contact the AIA Government Relations team at

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This content is published by the AIA Government and Community Relations Department, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20006. To contact the AIA’s Government & Community Relations team, send an email to


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