Last year we exposed the growing trend among thousands of British students who were funding their college experience through „Sugar Daddy“ websites, where „arrangements“ were made to allow students to pay off student loans and other living expenses.
It turns out that US students are now following this crafty debt repayment plan in the new „modern hooker economy.„
Meet Candice Kashani, recent graduate of Villanova University School of Law who despite a scholarship faced tuition and expenses of nearly $50,000. Candice was able to graduate this spring debt-free – with the help of several sugar daddies of course.
Ron Weitzer, sociology professor at George Washington University and criminologist describes sugar daddy arrangements as„prostitution light.“ However, that’s not how Kashani sees it. Kashani says that sites that connect women seeking financial help with men willing to provide it are a „great resource“, and that she sifted through many potential suitors before finding one she clicked with. Candice considers her sugar daddy one of her best friends and that they care deeply for each other.
„The people who have a stigma, or associate a negative connotation with it, don’t understand how it works.“ added Kashani.
With undergraduates facing an average of $35,000 in student debt, and graduates facing $75,000 or more, students sometimes need even more money in order to keep up with the cost of living, and are left scrambling.
Some students eventually find themselves on sites such as SeekingArrangement.com, the third largest of the sugar daddy websites, just as one anonymous graduate student at Columbia University did. As AP reports,
One graduate student at Columbia University in New York had a scholarship that covered almost all of her tuition, but not her living expenses. She spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the potential impact on her job prospects. She tried to make do — sharing a room with a classmate and working a minimum wage job, plus any freelance work she could get. But still she struggled to pay her rent and utilities, and her grades suffered.
„That’s just not why I am here,“ she said. „I wanted to find the most amount of money I could make for the least amount of effort.„
So she found herself surfing Craigslist and Backpage.com and later, SeekingArrangement.com, the largest of the sugar daddy websites. Now she has two sugar daddies, one she sees occasionally and another who is more like a conventional boyfriend, except that he pays her a monthly allowance and helps rent her an apartment closer to him.
SeekingArrangement.com said it is most popular in Los Angeles and New York. The average rent in both areas is well over $2,000 a month, according to Zillow research.
The Columbia student says she plans to continue „sugaring“ after she graduates to buy herself time to find a more traditional job and remain officially unemployed so she can defer repaying the roughly $70,000 in loans she had already racked up.
„There is a lot of moral panic about it,“ she said. „But what are the real estate and academic funding situations that led to this?„
Brandon Wade, the creator of SeekingArrangement.com says it’s an „alternative to financial aid“ but claims the site didn’t set out to target students, but it stumbled on the niche and began offering students premium free memberships in 2011 which normally cost $30 a month. Sugar daddies are charged $70 to $180 a month, depending on membership level.
Student users of the site jumped from 79,400 worldwide in 2010 to 1.9 million this year, which accounts for one third of its users. Interestingly, the company says enrollment jumps during August and January when tuition is typically due, sometimes to more than double normal levels.
Women who have used the site report experiences that are wide ranging, from respectful dates all the way to aggressive solicitation online, and although sex is not guaranteed, most users say it is implied.
Some warn that putting true identities online could put women at risk, but Wade says there are risks inherent in any dating website. Wade said SeekingArrangement.com was created out of his own frustration with women, and realized that a site such as his would highlight what set him apart: money.
„Money and sex are things that people want. I think the controversy comes into play on seeking arrangement because we are so up front about it.“ Wade said.
Alas, with the jobs recovery being as weak as it is, it’s only a matter of time before more students transition into full time users of sugar daddy services instead of looking for employment. Perhaps when Tim Geithner penned the now infamous „Welcome To The Recovery“ piece in the New York Times back in 2010, he should have followed it with „And The New Modern Hooker Economy.“