Tiara Thomas’ Dear Sallie Mae Is The Product Of Her ‘No Homework’ Rule

Her debut EP is about her college education, but not in the traditional sense.

Tiara Thomas may have accumulated a bit of debt in college, but the singer/songwriter (and sometimes rapper) made sure that her days at Ball State University paid off.

While Thomas didn’t end up using her telecommunications degree, she packed her college experience into her debut EP Dear Sallie Mae — an off-handed ode to the student loan giant.

“I was in college when I wrote all these songs that were on my EP,” Thomas told MTV News of the project, which was released on October 8. “I told my parents I wanted to do music full-time, [but] I had already taken out all these student loans, so I had to stay and graduate. So when I was in school I was really discovering who I was as an artist. I was creating this dope music, so I decided to name my EP Dear Sallie Mae.

The “dope” music that Thomas was creating would lead her straight to Top 40 radio after Wale found her acoustic track “Bad” on YouTube last year. Originally the tragic love song was Thomas’ take on Trillville’s 2004 rap single “Some Cut,” but the MMG lyricist would soon turn it into his lead single for his latest album The Gifted. “That was just last year, I put ’Bad’ on YouTube solo on Valentine’s Day of 2012, and that very next time this year, it was already the single,” she told us.

Many assumed that Thomas would sign with Wale, but she actually inked her deal with producer/singer/songwriter Rico Love. “I went and I played him three songs on the guitar, one of the songs was ’Bad;’ before Wale had even heard it,” he recalled. “He offered me a record deal like a week later. That was the first time I had been offered a record deal.”

Now, the deal Tiara says she signed in May has materialized into a five-song EP, which chronicles her higher learning which she completed in July 2012. “I was just really driven and determined. I would rather write music then study or do homework. I was really dead set on that,” she said. “That was my college experience.”