The Nicki Minaj Student Loan Forgiveness Program

First off, yes, the title of this post is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but to be honest, Nicki Minaj’s student loan forgiveness plan may be better than any of the others currently on offer from the Federal Government, and it’s one that’s certainly worth a discussion, as she just revolutionized my thinking about student loan forgiveness eligibility rules.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about Nicki Minaj’s student loan forgiveness benefit plan is that it offers assistance for both Federal and Private student loans, which is a great sign that the Government may not be thinking about student loans properly, but that ordinary Americans are.

While there’s currently very little financial assistance available for help with private student loans, Ms. Minaj has shown us that it’s possible to come up with a system that does indeed support those borrowers who were forced to turn to private lenders.

But to be serious, even if just for a moment, I would like to commend Nicki Minaj for her service to the community, as she has not only offered up about $20,000 in student loan assistance over the course of a few hours, but also proven to introduce some potentially very interesting new ideas about eligibility requirements for receiving student loan relief (performance-based support!).

But I’ll get to that in a minute, first, let’s talk about exactly what Ms. Minaj did the other night.

What is the Nicki Minaj Student Loan Forgiveness Program?

While there may be no actual program that goes by that name – yet – the concept comes from a series of Tweets between Nicki Minaj and her fans on the night of May 6th, 2017.

Ms. Nicki Minaj was explaining the rules for one of her Social Media contests, and mentioned that she had enough money to afford flying fans in from anywhere around the world, which prompted one quick-witted young man (@cjbydesign) to respond with: “Well you wanna pay for my tuition?”.

Her response was not only incredible, but also the stimulus that kicked off a Twitterstorm that would run for several hours, generate thousands of new messages, and lead to a media firestorm of activity that’s still growing, now several days later:

“Show me straight A’s that I can verify w/ur school and I’ll pay it. Who wants to join THAT contest?!?!????? Dead serious. Shld I set it up?”

Thousands of Minaj’s fans (and presumably some non-fans desperate for student loan relief) took up her offer, sending out images of their transcripts and requests for assistance with paying off student loans of their own.

And you’ve got to commend Nicki Minaj’s response to these requests, because after the dust settled, it appears that she dedicated herself to paying off about $20,000 of student loan-related debt in a single evening. That’s a huge amount of money to donate, and an amazing thing for her to do.

Of course, media coverage of the incident has exploded, leading to all sorts of aggrandizing claims like the idea that Nicki Minaj has single-handedly called attention to the student loan crisis, or that she may be the savior of the student loan debt bubble, but what’s important is that the media is finally paying attention to the problem.

And it couldn’t come at a better time, because we’ve got a ticking time bomb set to go off in October of 2017, when President Trump’s Department of Education may turn back the clock on the Obama Administration promises encoded in the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program, and simply claim that everyone who’s been waiting for their 10 year forgiveness to kick-in won’t be getting any support at all.

In my opinion, this incident with Nicki Minaj is a great, but sad indication that this may be the only way to get the general public to talk about or even consider the student loan disaster, since most Americans seem more interested in thinking about Nicki Minaj herself than about student loans.

But before I digress too far from the topic…

What Comes Next?

Ms. Minaj has hinted that she’ll do something like this again in a month or so, and I’d love to see this sort of regular activity from not only her, but also from other ultra-rich celebrities who are willing to do grassroots charity work.

These sorts of things set a great example to wider society, both that it pays to give back, as well as the idea that assistance can come from fellow people, rather than the gigantic political machine (read: the Federal Government).

In fact, I’m all for anything that leads to additional conversations not only about solutions for the student loan problem, but for generosity at large, and I love the idea of this style of assistance, being a 1 to 1 thing, which removes the waste, graft and other problems introduced by forcing these sorts of things through the bureaucracy.

And if I had to pinpoint a single thing that truly loved most about Nicki Minaj’s student loan repayment program, it’s that her benefits were only made available to people who could verify that they’re taking their schooling seriously by proving that they’ve earned Straight A’s.

Adding Performance Requirements to Relief Benefits

I love the concept of requiring some kind of high-performance to receive Federal financial assistance, and I think that this is an excellent idea for improving our existing student loan relief system.

I truly see no reason to continue throwing good money after bad, spending limited tax dollars on repaying the student loans of deadbeat students, who don’t have to prove any sort of accomplishment other than they can’t afford to pay back the debt they maybe shouldn’t have borrowed in the first place.

Why shouldn’t the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs include some kind of performance-driven eligibility requirements?

After all, if we’re going to fund the higher education costs of other people, shouldn’t they be forced to take their higher education seriously?

And shouldn’t our limited tax dollars be funneled toward those people who have dedicated themselves to performing at a higher level?

Personally, I would feel much more comfortable with the concept that my tax dollars are being put to use paying back the loans of stellar students, rather than deadbeats who may be squandering the opportunity that we’ve provided for them.

And I’m not the only one, because it seems an obvious solution to the Conservative critique that the Federal Government shouldn’t offer any sort of financial assistance benefits at all, since in their view, this type of unlimited assistance only teaches people to put their hand out and wait for help.

If benefits were tied to performance measures, perhaps Conservatives could get over the idea that all forms of Student Loan Debt Relief are inherently evil, and that perhaps benefits will be needed to help prevent the looming disaster that is the popping of the student loan debt bubble.

If performance was required to receive assistance, then perhaps we’d be able to generate a consensus about the idea that the Student Loan Crisis is not only real, but requires an immediate response from the Federal Government.

What Does Nicki Minaj’s Activity Say About Our Society?

On a deeper level, we shouldn’t just be celebrating the good deed(s) done by Ms. Minaj, but also analyzing them in order to determine where we take things from here.

If all we do is celebrate her good work, then go on with our days like nothing’s changed, then there will be no growth, and the student loan issue won’t be any nearer to a proper resolution.

What we need to do instead is take stock of the idea that it’s literally required a publicity stunt from a famous singer to start conversations about excessive student loans, something that should be taken as seriously as the threat of foreign terrorism.

Hopefully, Nicki’s work will help plant the seed in millions of American minds, encouraging them to consider alternative options for tackling the student loan disaster, and this incident will go down in history as another example of the idea that “life imitates art”.

While it’s a longshot, I’m truly hoping that President Trump will have caught wind of Ms Minaj’s activity (we all know he loves himself some Twitter…), because it may just stimulate him to jump on the bandwagon and steal her great idea.

Perhaps Ms. Minaj’s student loan relief work will be the impetus for President Trump’s student loan debt reforms finally being unveiled, and the entire structure of Federal student loan relief will be forever changed thanks to a young dude on Twitter who had no idea that his joke would be taken seriously.

But whether or not this incident compels President Trump to finally get around to releasing the details of the Trump Student Loan Reforms, I think we all owe it to ourselves (and to Ms. Minaj) to send a massive Thank You her way.

Nicki, if you’re out there and you happen to read this article, thank you very much for your generosity, and especially for your forward-thinking.


Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt in 2011, where he offers advice, tips and tricks for paying off student loans as quickly and affordably as possible.

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