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Coed Connection: Some local students find new way to pay the bills

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - College students have found a new way around rising tuition costs: sugar daddies. Arrangements are being made over the Internet, and wealthy men say they're more than willing to pay the bills of young college women.

The cost of attending college is on the rise and it's much more expensive than it was just a decade ago. Tuition can leave struggling students with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, but some are seeking an alternative to the pinch.

A website called Seekingarrangement. com is promoting itself as becoming extremely popular among college students around the nation. The self-proclaimed "world's largest sugar daddy site" is a place where people go to find what are being called "mutually beneficial arrangements."

"I want somebody who can spoil me and I can go out have fun, eat dinner at one of the amazing places you have dinner here," said a 23-year-old college student we're calling "Beth."

Beth is a sugar baby. She's a junior at Tulane University, and she has found a local sugar daddy on the site.

"I'm not saying 'hey, I went out to dinner with you, now I want $500,'" she said. "It's more of like, 'I went out to dinner with you, and I enjoyed myself, and I just happen to have a light bill or something, and you have no problem paying that.'"

Beth admits she created a profile on the site when she was 19 with the initial goal of meeting someone who would pay for her college tuition. In fact, according to the website, 137 Tulane students are now using sugar daddies to pay for their education - enough to put Tulane in the top 20 of their fastest-growing schools.

"They may want some of their scholastic goals as far as room and board, tuition, and so forth, and I'm big on education," said sugar daddy Anthony Wilson. "I have a bachelor's degree - and I have two of them, actually - so it's my pleasure to help a woman out with something of that sort, you know?"

Woodson lives in Chicago and he's one of the sugar daddies who seeks out potential sugar babies on the site. He said he has been a member for the past two-and-half-years, and in that time, he's spent a considerable amount of money on five different young women.

"I'd say, roughly, let just say maybe almost $200,000," he said.

Of the five women, he says three of them have been college students whose tuitions he has paid.

Brandon Wade launched the site in 2006.

"Some guys use their muscles, good looks to charm women," Wade said. "Others use their wallet. So with seekingarrangement. com, it's the wallet that speaks."

He said that for every man that signs up, there are about 10 women vying for his attention.

The site claims to have more than two million members, half of whom are college students. Wade said some of the female subscribers claim to get between $3,000 and $4,000 a month.

Beth said she's now financially stable, and in the past five months she's gotten about $800 to pay her bills.

"I feel like I'm dating someone who happens to be 19 years older than me," she said.

In most cases, the men seek much younger women. On the site, you can browse through the profiles of eligible men. You'll see their annual income and even their net worth. There's also a spot labeled "lifestyle budget," indicating how much they'll spoil a potential date.

"When you look at the average sugar daddy members, he's roughly 40 years old and he makes about $250,000 a year," Wade said. "That's what the average sugar daddy member is like. But there's a whole spectrum of sugar daddy members. There are billionaires on the website that for them, $3,000 or $4,000 - even $5,000 - really isn't much."

Some, though, may wonder: What exactly are these men paying for?

In Beth's case, she admits to having sex, but says she treats the arrangement like a dating relationship.

"It wasn't like, 'if you sleep with me tonight there's a present for you in the future,' it was just kind of like, it was the right moment and it was the right time, so it kind of happened," Beth said. "And it came way after I received anything from him."

Wade insists the site isn't a vehicle for prostitution, and he points out that it bans people with that in mind.

"One thing is clear," he said. "We do not allow escorts or prostitutes to use our website. It's completely forbidden on our website to ask somebody to go out with you by paying them so much an hour. So certainly paying for sex is not permitted on this site."

Some, though, are still skeptical, and even Beth admits that she was extremely nervous to meet her sugar daddy after hearing stories from other college students.

"She'd told me so many different things had happened to her to where she was able to pay for college, but she was also left in cities without a way to return home and she'd been raped before," Beth said, talking about a fellow sugar baby.

While some believe a generous sugar daddy will help them graduate debt-free, students we talked to said they couldn't imagine using the site.

"I feel like that's a little degrading, and morally I don't think I would be ok with that," one student said. "My parents really wouldn't be ok with that."

Tulane University released a statement saying: "The only source for statistics showing that college women from prestigious universities are flocking to such sites, come from the owners of these sites. We certainly discourage any student from taking part in such an arrangement given the obvious dangers."

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