Monday, June 22, 2015

College For Sex: Students depending on sugar daddies to pay their tuition

(SANTA BARBARA)  NEARLY three-quarters of the graduates now leaving America’s colleges are saddled with debt. On average, they owe $35,051. By comparison, roughly half of all graduates carried debt in 1995 and it averaged less than a third as much, says Edvisors, which tracks student aid (see chart). As the cost of university has risen, so has the number of “sugar babies” who pay for it by selling companionship and sex to wealthy older men. Monthly pay for this is typically about $3,000, though some “sugar daddies” offer much more. According to SeekingArrangement, a firm based in Las Vegas, two-thirds of sugar-baby graduates have no student debt.
Students who post profiles on know what they want, so “it’s almost like a business partnership”, says Angela Bermudo, a spokesman for the company. The site hosts some 900,000 profiles of sugar babies enrolled in American universities, up from 458,000 two years ago.
Their ranks swelled during the recession and are still growing fast, says Brandon Wade, the site’s founder. A year ago nearly 1,200 students with an e-mail account belonging to an American university posted a profile on the site every day; the daily average has risen to about 2,000. The site has even stopped advertising online. Its ads used to pop up with search results for terms such as “student loan”.The boom is fuelled by increased acceptance of “sugaring” (dating for money), says Steven Pasternack, the owner of a Miami firm known as Sugardaddie. The company’s site gets more than 5,000 new profile uploads worldwide every day.
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 14:  USC Trojans fans watch the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 14, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. USC won 28-21. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
A quarter are students. Astute marketing helps. Sugardaddie’s pitch notes that it does not “discriminate against people’s desires”. Sugar babies are increasingly advised to negotiate not an “allowance”, but rather a certain “lifestyle” in exchange for dates. These arrangements can remain discreet. New Yorker Keith and the younger woman he met online, seeking a sugar daddy to pay for college, both tell friends that they met in a bar. His weekly $500 deposits into her bank account will cease, he says, if she becomes unavailable.
Young men keen for cash from a “sugar mama” have few prospects. The vast majority of website sign-ups willing to pay for sex are men. This is how it should be, says Allison, a 23-year-old sugar baby near New York City whose online name is Barbiewithabrain. Her college, rent and car expenses have been covered since she was 18 by monthly allowances of $5,000-10,000 from three successive sugar daddies.
Might any of this qualify as prostitution? The websites say no. A sugar daddy doesn’t want his sugar baby to leave, whereas no client of a prostitute “wants the hooker to stick around”, as SeekingArrangement puts it. This argument has prevailed in America’s courts. If a relationship exists, payment can be labelled as compensation for companionship, not sex.
States that attempt to close that loophole fail, says Scott Cunningham, an economics professor at Baylor University in Texas who has studied prostitution markets. Proposed legislation against the practice might, he says, inadvertently prohibit marriage—which could, after all, be defined as intercourse for financial support. This is why, he adds, laws target streetwalking, pimping and other practices connected with types of prostitution. Finding a man online sidesteps all that. It is telling that PayPal, faced with a lawsuit, is dropping its refusal to process payments on SeekingArrangement, Mr Wade says. He expects the discreet payment option to become available this summer.

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