Paying for college can be daunting, to say the least. A look at statistics shows Americans alone owe $1.5 trillion in student loans. It’s easy to see why with price tags for four-year public universities averaging around the $10,000 and private institutions inching past $35,000. Devoid of scholarships, loans — be they from families or banks — and jobs that don’t meet tuition marks, not to mention costs of living while enrolled in schools, students are looking for alternatives. Enter sugar dating university.
The dating app SeekingArrangement recently released its fifth annual report of the Fastest Growing Sugar Babies Schools. “‘Sugar Baby University’ is actually the name of a marketing campaign [from 2015] to release data on top schools with students who are on the sugar dating scene,” Kimberly De La Cruz, a spokesperson for SeekingArrangement tells Parentology. “It was created because our demographic was overwhelmingly college-aged students.”
Just how many students are undertaking sugar dating to pay school bills according to the study? Over three million it turns out. Through conducting the study, SeekingArrangement found 62% of the students using the site — the equivalent of 2.48 million students — harken from the United States.
How online matchmaking services and apps like SeekingArrangement work? By pairing wealthy members of the upper echelon with young women and men. According to SeekingArrangement’s website, members include “CEOs, executives, investors, lawyers, doctors, accountants, celebrities, pro-athletes, actors, actresses, top models, and the elite 1%.”
Perks such arrangements can include cash, apartments, luxury goods and… mentoring. De La Cruz says. “Many of these men become mentors to their partners, helping them succeed in their own ventures and career goals.”
Where are Sugar Daters Enrolling?
Per the study, the top three universities with sugar dating students: Arizona State with 2,724 using the dating method, Indiana University with 1,540 and New York University at 1,507.
Not to be left out, community colleges entered the survey mix this year. Top ranker for sugar students was Virginia Community College with 2,008, Arizona’s Maricopa Community College with 1,158 and Los Angeles Community College with 616.
Many detractors opine these students are leveraging money for sex, with the lure of quick financial reward being difficult to resist under the suffocation of tuition fees and consumer debt. That was never the site’s intent, De La Cruz says. It all started with a Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate.
Brandon Wade, the aforementioned MIT alum, initially founded SeekingArrangement in 2006 for his own personal use. “He was well-educated with lots of money, but no time to meet people,” De La Cruz says.
Wade’s app is the perfect solution for dating in the modern age. While young clients on the site are actively seeking well-established, upwardly mobile men, the relationships are carefully negotiated. There’s no guessing if someone will call back, no misunderstandings about whether either party is married. “This isn’t a ‘client and customer’ interaction,” De La Cruz says. “These are real relationships where people want to be open and honest.”
While De La Cruz emphasizes that the relationships “are not transactional in nature”, there is usually a financial exchange. “There are financial benefits; gifts and money come naturally in any relationship,” she says. “There’s almost always a dynamic where one partner earns less. In these relationships, one person earns more than the other, but the connections are real.”
Seeking Arrangement seems to break the mold of what is typically considered a sugar daddy. On his site Ask Brandon Wade, the founder and CEO says “the term ‘sugar daddy’ is no longer reserved for the aging millionaire. It’s becoming a lifestyle embodied by young, single men who have a genuine, vested interest in adding value to their partners’ lives.”
Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, De La Cruz wholeheartedly believes there’s a seismic shift in how we encounter love, dating and sex — and that sugar dating lies at the intersecting point.
“It was brilliant when Tinder and Bumble launched,” De La Cruz says. “You could swipe all day long, but at the end of the day, there was no quality to that quantity. How are that photo and one-line blurb going to tell you anything substantial you would want to know about that person?”
“Our profiles are blunt and upfront, so you already know that they’re ok with you seeing them once a week, or that they’re married, for example. It’s more selective, so every encounter will be genuine and a good fit for you.”
“Everyone is busy, everyone has to work. There’s no such thing as a single income family anymore,” says De La Cruz. “As a society, we’re moving away from monogamy as the end-all-be-all of relationships. Realistically, it makes sense to have multiple partners or date someone without the expectation of moving in together or meeting their family, particularly for Millenials.
“Sugar dating, in general, is the answer to modern dating,” says De La Cruz. “I think in a few years, this will be how we date, how we meet people. I really believe that.”