Maytinee Kramer/Staff Writer
As the cost of college tuition in the U.S. continues to climb, more and more students are pressured to do whatever it takes to keep from becoming crippled by debt. Traditionally, college students would take up part-time jobs or sell textbooks. However, in the recent years, a growing number of students, particularly female, have sought unconventional ways of funding their tuition. Multiple studies find that female students are using “sugar daddy” services to supplement their income and pay for their studies.
According to The Economist, nearly three-quarters of college graduates are saddled with debt, owing an average of $35,051. Compared to 1995, roughly half of all graduates carried debt, averaging less than today’s third. With the rise of the cost in tuition rose the number of “sugar daddies,” generally older, wealthier men who pursue young college students, “sugar babies,” for companionship in exchange for money and a luxurious lifestyle. While that’s the surface image of the deal, it is often reported that sex remains unspoken.
In 2011, Seeking Arrangement, “the leading Sugar Daddy dating site where over five million members fuel mutually beneficial relationships on their terms,” reported that 40 percent of the website’s total population was comprised of college students. By 2012, the number rose to 44 percent. It is easy to see the appeal as college students who use Seeking Arrangement earn an average of $3,000 a month.
In 2013, Seeking Arrangement came out with an annual list of its “Top 20 Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools,” stating that 50 percent of the list was comprises of southern schools. Among the list were University of Central Florida in fourth place, University of South Florida in fifth place, Florida International University in seventh, and Florida State University in 14th.
Brandon Wade, Seeking Arrangement’s founder and CEO, said the site was created to empower women. “A sugar baby is an empowered woman who is tired of dating losers that contribute nothing to her life. She has made a commitment to only date men who will help her to achieve her goals.” For many women, they see the site as just any other dating site, only with a different type of clientele who offers a traditional sense of power including resources and money.
While becoming a Sugar Baby sounds like a simple way to pay for college, it could lead to dangerous situations. Sugar Daddy services pitch companionship for money, but the unspoken truth is that sex frequently factors into the equation.
Rather than learning professional habits or skills, a person is learning to trade their charms for cash. Sugar babies are expected to cater to their payer’s physical and emotional needs. Particularly for girls, many sugar daddies would expect them to sell their bodies.
Another red flag is that of an imbalance of power in the relationship. A sugar baby is generally younger, poorer and therefore, has less power, while the sugar daddy is usually older, richer and has more power.
Both may get what they want, but the sugar baby has to cater to the sugar daddy in ways that satisfy them in order to be paid, therefore making one feel powerless against the other. This type of relationship is unhealthy because it could potentially become psychologically and physically violent or damaging. There is also the potential for sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy and more.
While honest, old school ways of making money still have their appeal to some students, there is also a range of other ways students are making money on the side in unconventional industries with sugar daddy services appearing to be the popular option.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
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