Velázquez Seeks to Ease Arts Professionals’ Student Debt

Velázquez Seeks to Ease Arts Professionals’ Student Debt
For Immediate Release
June 21, 2017

Washington, DC - Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced legislation to ease student loan debt for professionals employed in the arts. The American Arts Revival Act extends federal public service loan forgiveness to cultural workers, museum professionals, artistic professionals and certain arts and humanities professors—all of whom provide services for seniors, children or adolescents.

“Those working in the arts and related fields make invaluable contributions to New York City and to our entire nation,” said Velázquez. “Individuals that dedicate themselves to these professions enrich our culture and my bill would provide many of them with relief from mounting student loan debt.”

Those who pursue a college-level degree in the arts are likely to rack up sizable student loan debt compared to many of their peers. The average debt for a graduate specializing in art, music and design averages at nearly $22,000. Furthermore, graduates of liberal arts colleges average a median debt of $19,445 versus $18,100 for research universities.

Under the bill, in order to qualify for forgiveness, individuals must be employed full-time in the performing, visual or musical arts that provide services to seniors, children or adolescents. These individuals would qualify for up to $10,000 of loan forgiveness. The bill would also amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to state that professions offering these services are deemed to be in the public interest.

Numerous studies highlight the benefits of an arts education including: higher test scores, greater community involvement and a reduced risk of dropping out of school. A 2006 study showed that students who took music courses scored 57 points higher on the verbal section of the SAT and 41 points higher in math, than peers with no arts participation.

“Investing in arts and arts education is an investment in our children,” Velázquez noted. “Not only will this initiative assist arts educators, but by attracting additional talent to the field, it will benefit students, young people, seniors and adolescents who take these courses.”

Velázquez’s bill has been endorsed by over 100 organizations including major educational institutions like the Pratt Institute, Carnegie Hall and the California Institute for the Arts.

“Educating artists and designers and providing them with the skill set to succeed in life as creative professionals is critical, and we are proud to support the American Arts Revival Act of 2017,” said Pratt Institute President Thomas F. Schutte. “We live in a fascinating time of great creative inspiration and pioneering work, all of which impacts our country in myriad ways, from contributing to our nation’s economy to shaping our diverse culture. By reducing student debt, we are encouraging our creative thinkers to dedicate themselves to their work and further expand the boundaries of innovation in this country.” 

“Carnegie Hall applauds Congresswoman Velázquez’s commitment to expanding access to arts education, and her recognition that supporting cultural and artistic professionals is in our nation’s interest and will contribute substantially to our economy and society,” said David Freudenthal, Director of Government Relations.

“I am proud to represent the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the California Institute of the Arts in announcing our support of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s American Arts Revival Act of 2017. This important legislation will amend section 428K(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and wisely brings debt relief to artists who have dedicated their lives and talent to the service of others”, said California Institute of the Arts President Ravi S. Rajan. “The American Arts Revival Act of 2017 will strengthen our country in many ways, as artists play a vital role in a healthy democracy. I urge all Americans to support this important legislation.”

“New York has long been an artistic and cultural capital,” Velázquez concluded. “We must continue working to invest in our cultural economy by supporting arts and the artists who enrich our communities and all our lives.”


Contact: Alex Haurek, 202-225-2361