Paying college tuition with loans or scholarships is not the only option.
SeekingArrangement.com is an online dating website that specializes in connecting young people with potential “benefactors” who will financially support them. It is the largest “sugar daddy” dating website with over 2.7 million users worldwide, and 42 percent of the Sugar Baby members are college students.
The fastest growing sugar baby school is the University of Central Florida, with 474 new users, while the University of Georgia claimed the 11th spot with 185 users, according to this year's list of "Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools."
In an email to The Red & Black, Leroy Velasquez, public relations manager for InfoStream Group Inc., the company that manages SeekingArrangement.com, said the dating website can be a resource for those who cannot afford the rising rate of college tuition.
“One million college students worldwide have joined SeekingArrangement.com, the world’s largest Sugar Daddy dating website, in hopes of securing a wealthy benefactor to help pay for college,” he wrote.
Velasquez said the website strives to promote a culture of generosity and honesty for benefactors and users.
“We specialize in mutually beneficial arrangements” he said. “These people create online dating profiles like any other dating website, except the main difference here is that they actually put either, as a benefactor, what they’re willing to provide financially per month, or, as an attractive member, what they ideally would like to receive per month.”
Velasquez said members receive anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 per month depending on the benefactor and cited the recent economic recession as a reason for the increase in college students dating sugar daddies.
“The arrangements on the site range from completely platonic mentorship to something a little more serious, like boyfriend-girlfriend, to even marriage,” he said. “We never directly marketed college students when we created this website, it’s just a sign of the [economic] times.”
According to data compiled by InfoStream Group Inc., there are 557 SeekingArrangement.com student members at UGA.
Velasquez said the website maintains a high degree of security, but Ben Lanier, a sophomore political science major from Dublin, said he knows people that use the sugar daddy website as a tool for sexual solicitation.
“I have a friend that [uses the website] and I completely disagree with it,” he said. “I think it’s gross. I completely understand the need to make more money, but it’s almost like prostitution to me. It creeps me out.”
Lanier said although sugar daddies claim to only pay for “[the sugar baby’s] company,” they actually pay for “dinner and sex.”
“There is nothing that even implies that [prostitution] is allowed on the website to begin with, and furthermore we are the first dating website to implement a background check,” he said.
“If [benefactors] solicit any of these members, it’s ban-able upon first offense. We’re very strict about activity on our website,” Velasquez said.
Despite its possible utility for paying for tuition, Jess Fannin, a freshman psychology major from Dalton, said she considers using the website to be an act of desperation.
“There are so many other ways to pay tuition than having some guy you met on the Internet do it,” she said. “I’d have to be really desperate to sign up for this website.”