If you’re someone who attended university in the UK after tuition fees were introduced in 1998, or in the USA pretty much ever, you likely graduated with a not insignificant – and ever-increasing – amount of debt. The average college student across the pond currently owes a reported £28,645 ($37,172), while young people in England now graduate with a staggering average debt of £44,000.
In these precarious financial times, the thought of someone declaring that they’ll pay for your university education sounds like something straight out of a modern-day fairy tale. But that’s what just happened to a handful of college student – and their fairy godmother came in the form of none other than Nicki Minaj.
The rapper announced on Saturday that she would cover several fans’ tuition fees, on the condition that their grades were good enough.
Minaj – estimated net worth £54 million ($70m) – had originally posted a message on Twitter offering to pay for flights for her international fans to attend the Billboard music awards in Las Vegas.
“Ya muva makes enough money to fly members of #TheKingdom out from ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!” she wrote.
In response, a 21-year-old college student known only as ‘CJ’ tweeted back:
It seems doubtful whether CJ expected a response – but six minutes later, a response is what they got.
Inevitably, Minaj was instantly hit with a flood of requests from other cash-strapped students. She asked each of her fans to send her proof, via Twitter direct message, of their straight A grades and financial situation.
In return, the 34-year-old rapper offered to wire financial support to more than 30 young people, in the form of contributing to their tuition fees, paying off their college loans, or simply helping them out with one-off purchases.
The lucky beneficiaries included Nicolas, a young man who couldn’t afford to buy the professional camera he needed to study audiovisual production at university in Bogotá, Colombia; Mona, who owed £308 ($400) for her online course books; and Ashley, a single mother from Minaj’s home neighbourhood of Queens, New York, who had £385 ($500) left of her tuition to pay.
Heading off claims of a publicity stunt, website TMZ later confirmed that at least one fan had already received $500 from Minaj.
A little after 1am on Sunday morning, having pledged more than £23,100 ($30,000) in financial aid, Minaj called it a night, tweeting: “OK u guys. It’s been fun. Let me make those payments tomorrow then see if I have any money left… I’ll do some more in a month or two.”
Praise for Minaj was almost unanimous on social media – but, as vlogger Tyler Oakley pointed out, the musician’s generosity also served to highlight the desperate financial situation faced by university students around the world.
Minaj isn’t the first celebrity to step in to help hard-pressed fans pursue their dreams. In April, Beyoncé announced the launch of her Formation scholarship, to help women gain arts degrees at four US universities.
Chrissy Teigen, meanwhile, recently stepped in to pay for a young woman’s beauty school tuition after she reached out on Twitter.
Image: Rex Features