College  |  September 26, 2018  |  Rob Zodda

What you'll learn
  • Tips for paying off student loans
  • Identifying needs vs wants
  • Budgeting

New Orleans-based hip-hop artist, Dee-1, has a record deal with RCA, he’s toured the country, and his music videos have millions of views on YouTube. Something else he’s proud of—he paid off his student loans (and then rapped about it).

 Dee-1 on paying off student loans

We chatted with Dee to find out why he’s so passionate about helping students make smart financial decisions.
Q: Why do you feel so strongly about helping people repay their student loans?

A: I’m a college graduate, and I’ve experienced what it's like to pay back your student loans, so I consider myself an expert on this subject. I want people to know the quickest route and the best practices. I believe that paying off your loans is a lifestyle decision that you make.

Q: How can people overcome any fear they might have?

A: A lot of times you just see this big number, this lump sum that you owe, and you say, ‘How in the world am I going to fit that into my monthly expenses and work that number down to zero?’ Just like with anything in life, if you strategize you can defeat whatever obstacle is in front of you. Paying back your loans isn't something that should intimidate you so much.

Q: How can people find the money to pay off their loans?

A: You may have to alter your lifestyle a bit. That doesn't mean you only get to eat once a day to pay your loans back. But there are definitely things that each of us can do to say, ‘Whoa, I can recalibrate how I spend my money and what I choose to prioritize with my income that can allow me to get out of debt.’

Q: What would you say to people who are in the thick of making their student loan payments?

A: Keep going! The joy that comes from paying off all your student loans—it’s the highest high out there.

Dee-1’s tips for paying off student loans

1. Make a budget and stick to it

The best way to stick to a budget—live below your means and put leftover money toward your student loans. You’ll pay them off sooner, which means you’ll pay less interest and save money in the long run.

 2. Put any extra income toward your student loans

The first thing Dee did when he signed his first record deal? He paid off his student loans. Pay more than the minimum amount due each month. If you get a raise or tax refund, put part or all of it toward your loan.

3. Ask for help, if you need it

Keep your cosigner informed (if you have one) as you pay off your loan. If you’re really struggling to make your loan payments, find out what options are available to you.


Sallie Mae does not provide financial, tax, or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal, or financial advice. Sallie Mae does not make any claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Sallie Mae. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

You must apply for a new loan each school year. This approval percentage is based on students with a Sallie Mae undergraduate loan in the 2018/19 school year who were approved when they returned in 2019/20. It does not include the denied applications of students who were ultimately approved in 2019/20.