“I wanted these high school students to understand why it's important to go to college and why it's important to graduate. I don't want to just tell them to do it. I want them to understand why.” Dee-1, hip hop artist and educator


The Dee-1 Knowledge for College Tour

A partnership between an unlikely duo—hip hop artist Dee-1 and Sallie Mae—paved the way for a successful tour in 5 states in October of 2016. At each school, Dee-1 delivered a personal challenge to the students to use college as a gateway for a better life, sharing his story, along with his “Knowledge for College” tips. At the end of each speech, one lucky student was surprised with a $5,000 scholarship—for a total of $95,000 given out in scholarships.

Congratulations to our 2016 winners!

Ohio winners
Omar M., Woodward Career Technical High School
Autumn C., Purcell Marian High School
Caitlin M., Hughes STEM High School

Michigan winners
Mindy H., Waverly High School
Gabriel C., Holt High School
Jada D., J. W. Sexton High School
Kyle P., Eastern High School
Triston G., Camden Frontier High School

Massachusetts winners
Nicole M., Methuen High School
Kashous S., Methuen High School
Scott B., Barnstable High School
Alec D., Barnstable High School
Devin G., Boys and Girls Club of Charlestown

Pennsylvania winners
Quaderia F., Frankfort High School
Aneka W., Kensington CAPA High School
Shannon M., High School of the Future

Delaware winners
Destiny B., St. Georges High School
Mikayla S., Howard High School
Martiayna W., Howard High School

See what people had to say

Nicole M., student

“I do wish to extend my education…I want to go my own way and go into a study that I'm passionate about. So, that's what college has always been…the number one choice for me. I want to major in art history and then get a master’s in art history and hopefully get another master’s in museum studies.”

Scott B., student

“Dee-1 said a lot of inspiring things. I think it will change my future. I definitely have more incentive to go to college now.”

Kashous S., student

“I realized that I won the $5,000 scholarship, and it's going to make it a lot easier to go to college now.”

Virginia T., History and Social Sciences Curriculum Coordinator

“Dee-1’s message about the importance of college and perseverance was spot on with our students. They’re still talking about his presentation.”

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Dee-1's Knowledge for College tips

1. Why go to college?

  • You can make more money if you have a college degree.
  • You’ll have career options.
  • You’ll meet new people and make connections you’ll value the rest of your life.

2. How to pay for college?

  • Put your tax dollars to work and get your share of the $150 billion the government sets aside for students by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Max out on money you won’t have to pay back, like scholarships. Apply for as many as possible, and do it early! If you wait, the money could end up going to someone else.

  • If you need a loan, borrow responsibly. My rule of thumb is to look at the starting salary of whatever career you plan to pursue, and don’t let your debt exceed that amount.

3. Why having a college degree is important?

  • The degree is the key to finding a fulfilling future.
  • Earn the return on money you have spent, and remember: you’ll have to repay student loans even if you don’t graduate—and that will be much harder without a degree.
  • Take pride in successfully setting a goal, working toward it, and seeing it through to completion—a valuable trait to have.

Dee-1’s story

Born David Augustine, Dee-1 graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. After graduating, he taught middle school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before pursuing his musical dream and signing with RCA Inspiration records. After inking the deal, Dee-1 took part of his advance and paid off his student loans, which inspired him to write “Sallie Mae Back.”

With “Sallie Mae Back,” Dee-1 brought a new lyrical twist to the hip hop world: the promotion of financial responsibility. Dee-1 uses his experiences as a hip hop artist and educator to motivate others to fulfill their life calling and live with what he calls “mission vision.” He strives to be real, righteous, and relevant and to be an artist that his students can be proud of.


Dee-1 videos

Dee-1 and Sallie Mae partnership
“Sallie Mae Back” music video

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