Help via Helping

The NDSA began to surface not too long ago as a possibility that architects and designers could receive financial assistance for contributing time and effort to "in need" communities. Following along the same lines as other professions such as medicine or law, this bill would effectively allow architects (or architectural interns) to wield their skills in exchange for monetary loan assistance (amount to be determined by hours served and projects done). With the recent numbers showing graduates with either an M.Arch or B.Arch emerging from school with stifling debt well over $40,000, many saw it as the perfect time to jump on the possibility of reaching for more help. As a proud and hard-working profession, we of course see handouts as non-options and opt to work for assistance while simultaneously putting time towards IDP or CEU's. This new Act would not only encourage more young professionals to be active in their communities but would also allow for a greater amount of individuals seeking licensure. While it may not pertain to every single architect/architectural intern, it still will provide opportunity and relief to a vast majority of those holding the esteemed degree. Today, I'm proud to say that the NDSA has officially entered the United States House of Representatives with a firm and rare bipartisan support group. As more students emerge from school with larger amounts of debt, the government is seeing this opportunity both as a way to in a sense get "free" labor, get more jobs out on the streets and to help stimulate the economy by restoring a small amount of financial security and freedom to the struggling students. This bill is a great sign of the growing recognition of the field of architecture but also the asinine debt to income ratio many face their first 5 or even 10 years out. So what does this mean for you if you're still in school or just out? Quite simply, if you have a hefty loan amount like myself or many others, you'll never pay your entire debt via this bill nor will you (probably) if you have a lower amount. This is meant to be supplemental to ease your burden in the long run while providing you an arena to hone your skills and work towards your license. I think it's a great idea, however I can see many not taking advantage because of hectic schedules or lack of interest in public or community engagement. There also will probably be a limited number of funds, so once it's dried up for the year the people and projects being worked on may be left abandoned. Overall, I support this bill, and you should too. Our level of education and expertise deserves this opportunity (because once again, I believe we are one with the law students and the doctors out there) and we should take advantage of it. With strong support going forward, we may meet up sometime in the near future re-planning a deprived neighborhood or thinking of ways to rebuild houses for those stricken by terrible disasters. Whatever the case may be, make sure you pay attention to the bill, sign the petition and take advantage of it should it pass through.