The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) today called for Congress to pass legislation that includes architecture school graduates in the same programs that offer other graduates loan debt assistance if they donate their services to their communities and elsewhere.
The AIA/AIAS initiative comes as both President Obama this past weekend and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney today urged Congress to head off a scheduled increase in student loan interest rates this July.
Also today, the AIAS released a survey of almost 600 architect school graduates showing that graduating architecture students carry a much higher amount of undergraduate student debt - $40,000 on average - than the national student loan debt average of $25,000. AIAS members will visit Capitol Hill in July to lobby lawmakers on these issues.
"There are numerous opportunities for young talented architects to use their skills to help rebuild our nation's communities," said AIA President Jeff Potter, FAIA. "Yet, more and more young architects are leaving the profession because they cannot afford to remain; this brain-drain will have major implications for our communities and the construction industry in the years ahead.
The AIA and AIAS are not asking for a handout; rather, we want Congress to provide the ability of architecture graduates to use their talents in underserved communities in exchange for debt assistance, just as Congress has provided for doctors, lawyers, teachers and others."
The survey also found that architecture students face a large amount of hidden costs that are not part of the listed tuition fees of a program. Specifically, the survey showed that architecture students spend more than $1,000 annually on materials for models and project submissions. Textbooks amount to another $800 per year, and technology spending accounts for an additional $1,500 per year. Thus, over the course of a 4 year Bachelor's program, most students will spend an additional $13,200 in related school costs, with a six-year Master's course of study leading to $19,800 in these types of expenses.
"The current trends in the pursuit of Architecture as a career, and the realities of the current economy and the anticipated progression of the recovery, demanded that the AIAS look at our members' perception and expectations for the future," said AIAS President Nick Mancusi, Associate AIA. "In order to remain relevant, our organization and the profession as a whole needs to be aware of the next generation's concerns and offer information and resources to support those capable and willing citizens as they graduate and engage with their community."