“Is it $40,000? $50,000? $60,000? Maybe it’s more. Is it $80,000? $90,000? $100,000? How much do you owe?”
That’s the unfortunately relatable mantra repeated at the end of New Orleans rapper Dee-1’s new single, “Sallie Mae Back.”
The artist recently signed a record deal and used a good chunk of the money not for flashy rims or jewels — but to finish paying off his student loans.
Dee-1 Raps About Paying Off His Student Loan Debt
To celebrate, Dee-1 — real name David Augustine Jr. — composed a triumphant rap about exactly how awesome it felt to spend his money saying goodbye to Sallie Mae’s monthly bills (and daily phone calls from multiple numbers) once and for all.
Then, he set it to a video that trades the miserable financial aid office line for a happier scene: a classic college toga party, red solo cups and all.
See for yourself:
But the video isn’t purely celebratory.
“The goal was to make an anthem that would allow people to feel the excitement that I felt, but hopefully it would also begin a bigger conversation about the student loan debt crisis,” the rapper told MarketWatch.
The song is both a warning and a sympathetic nod to the plight of new grads.
Dee-1 mentions working two jobs and still not making enough to pay back the loans after graduation. He laments the subsequent default hurting his credit score (“Check my Equifax!”).
“Student loan debt is out of control,” Augustine said, “and I do think that college should ultimately be made more affordable.”
To that point, the song’s ending refrain is telling: The question is not whether you owe student loans, but rather how much.
Student debt is such a universal experience for millennials, it’s been translated into a cultural anthem.
Ready to Pay Sallie Mae Back Yourself?
You might not have a sizeable chunk of change from a record deal, but you can pay back your student loans… even if they seem totally insurmountable.
First, work out a plan to pay back your loans. Figuring out ways to earn more to put toward monthly bills is a great tactic. Loan-repayment tools can also get you on the fast track to debt-free living.
If you’ve got a way with words, try blogging, like this kid. He was able to pay off his loans before he even graduated.
And if worse comes to worst?
Well, if you skip one of those payments, you might be able to buy a plane ticket instead.
Just kidding. Mostly.
Your Turn: How much do you owe?
Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also writes other stuff, like wine reviews and poems.