The following is a press release from AIA announcing its advocacy for the Retirement Parity for Student Loans Act.

More than 50 architecture students joined The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) on Capitol Hill today to advocate for legislation that could provide relief for millions of Americans carrying student loan debt.

During their visit, architecture students met with lawmakers and their staff to advocate for solutions to student loan debt as well as support for the Retirement Parity for Student Loans Act (S. 1428). The legislation would allow employers to count an employee’s student loan debt repayment as a matching contribution to that employee’s retirement plan. Any type of student loan and employer-based retirement plan would qualify under the proposal. Ultimately, the legislation would allow recent graduates to begin saving money for retirement, while also accumulating interest.

“Architecture students are the future of our profession,” said AIA EVP/Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Congress needs to change the game on student loans to make education a viable option for future architects and other professionals. America’s overwhelming student loan debt problem deters too many young Americans from pursuing their dreams and can rob those determined to succeed of their financial stability.”

An estimated 44.7 million Americans owe approximately $1.5 trillion in student loan debts. According to an AIAS poll of recent architecture students, respondents owed an average of $40,000 in accumulated debt after graduation. Meanwhile, 42 percent of Americans between 18-29 years old have no retirement savings, according to a report by the Federal Reserve.

The AIA is taking a multifaceted legislative approach to address and alleviate high student loan debt issues. In addition to advocating for the Retirement Parity for Student Loans Act, the AIA and its members are working with lawmakers to identify ways to make college more affordable.

Learn more about AIA’s efforts to alleviate student loan debt and other advocacy initiatives.