Music by VICE

Nicki Minaj Offering to Pay Fans' Uni Costs Shouldn't Surprise You

It was only a matter of time before the Bank of Barbz opened for business.

by Lauren O'Neill
May 8 2017, 1:46pm

To imply that Nicki Minaj has a lot to say is an understatement. But if she has one unfaltering message for her fans – one thing that seems more important to her than anything else – it's "stay in school". From the beginning of her career she has communicated the sentiment directly to her Barbz and preached it on tour stops all over the world – hell, she even showed up at a Bar Mitzvah to spread the word:

So it's not really a surprise that over the weekend, Nicki, in a show of generosity, started pledging to pay her Twitter followers' university tuition, in some cases providing that they could prove their straight A grades. Putting her money where her mouth is (well, at least in terms of making the offer), she set out to help a number of fans who tweeted her because they were otherwise struggling to pay their way through university-level education, and said she planned to help others later in the year. And for a number of reasons, it's a very on-brand Nicki move.

Yes, it makes sense because Nicki is so pro-education, but it also works in the wider sense of her type of stardom. She is, for example, particularly in touch with her fandom (which she recently renamed "The Kingdom") – constantly posting their parodies of her videos and tracks, and engaging with them via social media. So the casual way with which she promised them potentially life-changing sums of money further cements their close relationship, proving that she's as much a friend and ally to her most devoted followers as she is an icon.

Nicki's also one to keep up with what's going on in the world – she has often been socially conscious and outspoken on various issues such as sexism, police brutality and racism in the music industry – so it makes sense that she'd implicitly add education to that list, too. This very public plugging of funding gaps brings the issue of the cost of tuition (some US universities charge over £20,000 a year for tuition) and the lack of aid for those in financial need to the fore.

In a similar manner, Beyoncé also recently established a scholarship programme called Formation Scholars, via which one woman at four different US universities will receive funding for the 2017-2018 academic year. Rihanna, moreover, has funded a scholarship for Caribbean students to go to university in the US for years. As a cultural maven who knows that fans now actively want "wokeness" rather than ignorance or detached apathy from stars, it's not surprising that Nicki followed in their footsteps, though in a less formal manner, to raise the topic in the cultural conversation.

Perhaps most importantly, though, Nicki herself understands the value of education in the context of her own story. When she was five years old, she was moved from Trinidad to the Bronx, New York, where her mother was attending Monroe College. Nicki herself went to a specialist performing arts high school, where she got a valuable grounding for her career. Her investment in her fans' education, therefore, doesn't feel forced (as many, rightly or wrongly, felt it was when, for example, Taylor Swift helped a fan pay off some loans) – it's just rooted in her own experience of working hard and reaping the rewards.

So though it might have come a little out of the blue, it seems that it really was only a matter of time until the Bank of Barbz opened for business. And while it's disappointing that stars are having to pick up the slack to help their fans where their governments are failing, Nicki's investment in education makes total sense – she's just helping the next generation boss up.

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(Image via Nicki Minaj on Instagram)

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