Teacher-turned-rapper breaks down college aid for Achieve 180 students   

Two students awarded $5,000 college scholarship from Sallie Mae

Students at schools in the district’s Achieve 180 initiative recently got an interactive lesson on college financial aid thanks to a visit from a former middle school teacher turned rap artist.

David Augustine Jr., also known as rapper Dee-1, addressed the crowd of high school seniors on the importance of applying for college and sang his hit single about paying off student loans. The song, Sallie Mae Back, is about how Augustine paid off his college student loans with an advance he received after signing a record deal.

“I was like, how should I spend this,” said Dee-1. “Most rappers buy a new car, they take a vacation, buy jewelry but I wanted to break all the stereotypes – and most importantly, I wanted to get out of debt.” 

A key driver of Acheive180, which focuses on historically underserved and underperforming schools at HISD, includes removing non-academic barriers that interfere with student success, including the college application and financial aid process.

Nearly 40 students from every Achieve 180 high school attended the Dee-1 event at the Power Center on October 6, which also included a workshop on the Federal Application for Student Aid or FAFSA. Two lucky students were also awarded a $5,000 college scholarship from Sallie Mae. In addition, Sallie Mae contributed $20,000 to the HISD Foundation Hurricane Harvey relief fund.

“Events like these and exposing our students to speakers like Dee-1 show them that going to college can be a reality, particularly for those who don’t think their family can afford it, said HISD College Success Manager Tina Wright. “Helping our students and families plan for college and distilling it into real and relevant advice that connects the dots for them is key.”

In addition to performing his music and talking to students about the enhanced career opportunities that come with a college degree, Dee-1 also addressed the  benefits of applying for FAFSA and maximizing money that will not have to be paid back after graduation, including scholarships and grants.

His visit to the Power Center is part  of the “Dee-1’s Knowledge for College Tour,” which is traveling to cities across the U.S. to educate high school students on the importance of planning for college.

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