Increasingly higher tuition and book fees are nothing new for today’s students, but the way many are going about covering the costs is definitely new.
According to Business Insider, nearly 2.5 million out of 10 million users on SeekingArrangement.com — a website that hooks “sugar daddies” up with “sugar babies” — are students.
SeekingArrangement.com defines its goal as:
[Providing a space] where people are direct with one another and stop wasting time. It allows people to immediately define what they need and want in a relationship.
In many cases, the sugar daddy (or mama) will pay the sugar baby a specific amount of money for companionship — whether that be a dinner date, a mentor-mentee dynamic, or a more-intimate relationship.
After the site discovered how many students were signing up, Business Insider reported, it then launched a marketing campaign directly aimed at students looking for help with their debt and loans. According to Business Insider, sugar babies usually pay a monthly membership fee of $20, but students on the site receive free membership.
Twenty-nine-year-old Christina, a sugar baby living in Las Vegas, Nevada, gave Business Insider a glimpse into the life of a student using SeekingArrangement.com to pay for school debt. She’s currently working towards her MBA online at Michigan State University, and she said it wasn’t until her uncle — who helped her pay for school — passed away that she turned to a sugar daddy:
“That was when it finally set in and I was looking at the prices and I was looking at how much debt I was getting in and I had already started my MBA. I was like, I can’t afford this, I’m going to be paying this off for years and years and years.”
When her uncle died, she had already earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design and merchandising and she was on her way to receiving a second bachelor’s degree in political science and pre-law.
It was then that some of her friends reportedly encouraged her to sign up for the arrangement site. She stood out, however, because rather than being showered with gifts, she was clear she only needed help paying for tuition and books. She said:
“One of the very first messages that pretty much everyone sends, on either side, is ‘What are you looking for?’ because we want to make sure we’re on the same page.
On my profile it specifically says, I’m going to school for this, this is what I’m looking for, I would like help paying for my school and my books.”
She also clarified that although some sugar babies do consent to physical intimacy, she isn’t willing to partake in sexual activities with her sugar daddies:
“I’m not a person that is interested in one-night stands with people who are visiting Vegas for a couple days — that’s not interesting to me. If that’s what you’re going to come at me with, my response is going to be, thank you for the offer, but I’m going to pass.”
She did say that the website isn’t “foolproof”:
“You have to stand your ground, you need to have a backbone.”
She did not explicitly state how many men she’s made arrangements with, but she told Business Insider that out of her three consistent sugar daddies, one of them was married with children.Seeking Arrangement/Instagram
A spokesperson for SeekingArrangement.com, Alexis Germany, told the publication:
“Some of [the Sugar Daddies] have that ‘white knight’ scenario where they really want to be helping somebody and saving them from their debt — or whatever you want to call it.”
Christina said she’s been given “at least $90,000” from the sugar daddies to go toward school, books, and other costs related to her degree. She said:
“People are more gracious and more willing to do more for you [when you aren’t demanding] … as opposed to someone who’s sitting there saying, this is what I’m expecting and if I get less than this I want nothing to do with you.”
However, whether she’s offered an expensive getaway or asked to make plans, she says the men in her world “know that school comes first to me.”
With just two semesters left until she receives her MBA, Christina told Business Insider she plans on staying on the site to attend law school next. She said she has no plans to keep a sugar daddy once her schooling is finished, then added:
“But that could always change.”
Aside from her sugar daddy income, Business Insider also reports that Christina works as a cocktail waitress and a model, so she’s not totally dependent on the men for her cash flow. But her earnings in those jobs don’t come close to what she makes as a sugar baby.Seeking Arrangement/Instagram
She did, however, tell Business Insider it was “difficult” to get used to the notion of having a sugar daddy:
“It was difficult at the beginning to be like, OK I’m getting handed this money for doing really nothing, I’m literally just going to dinner, it was difficult to understand at the beginning.
I’ve had to struggle with the negative attachment that comes along with being on the site, or saying that you have a sugar daddy, it’s difficult to have people hear a word and automatically think negative about you, but at the same time, I have to push that stuff out of my mind.”
But now, while being satisfied with the way she presents herself, she said she sees what her end goal is:
“I’m fortunate enough to, hopefully when I’m completely finished with school, to say, I have no student loans, I have no debt at all, that is going to be the easiest part [of this experience] for me.”
And as the cost of education continues to rise in the U.S., Christina, at the very least, knows that people’s opinions — whether positive or negative — don’t pay those bills.