Turns out some rumors are true.
New data shows that more than a thousand young women at Arizona State University will spend their college years living in luxury, receiving pretty little monthly allowances, and getting wined and dined or taken on extravagant vacations by wealthy businessmen.
Oh, and did we mention that they’ll then graduate debt-free?
According to Seeking Arrangements, the leading Sugar Daddy-Sugar Baby relationship matching website, the number of young women self-reporting that they rely on Sugar Daddies to put them through ASU increased 20 percent in the last year to a grand total of 1,112.
This makes ASU the second most popular school for Sugar Babies. New York University has about 170 more Sugar Babies.
For those not in the know, sugar dating is when a rich man (or woman) finances the lavish lifestyle of a poorer — and often younger and more attractive — partner in exchange for some sort of companionship.
GQ magazine calls sugar dating “the oldest dynamic around: Rich person contracts poorer but younger/hotter person into some combination of obligations that includes but is only rarely limited to straight-up sex.”
But to be clear, this isn’t a service for “prostitution or escort,” explains Brooke Urick spokeswoman for Seeking Arrangements. She says the company does a lot of work to ensure this doesn’t happen.
“These people are looking for relationships. There’s no exchange or transaction,” she adds. “They know what they’re looking for and they’re not afraid to ask for it.
“No one is getting paid; it’s about gifting someone that you’re in a relationship with.”
This doesn’t mean the dynamic is without critics, but Seeking Arrangements insists the relationship is mutually beneficial and not at all exploitation – or, at least it’s mutual exploitation and therefore not exploitation.
The site defines Sugar Daddies (or Mommies) as “successful” people who “know what they want. They’re driven, and enjoy attractive company by their side. Money isn’t an issue, thus they are generous when it comes to supporting a Sugar Baby.”
And Sugar Babies, in turn, are “attractive people looking for the finer things in life. They appreciate exotic trips and gifts. Sugar Babies get to experience a luxurious lifestyle, and meet wealthy people on a regular basis.”
According to Urick, about a third of all Sugar Babies are college students or were in college when they signed up for her company’s service – that’s 1.34 million students, to be clear. (Another recent study conducted by the site found that a third of all Sugar Babies have "daddy issues.")
Urick says most Sugar Babies are between ages 21 and 27, and the average age of a Sugar Daddy is 45.
People sign up for this lifestyle for all sorts of reasons, she says, but the company has seen a huge spike in the number of college students recently, which it attributes to the astronomical rise in tuition costs.
“We realized the site was a magnet for college students because not only is this a way to finance your education, but it’s a way to meet people who can help you get ahead in life,” Urick says.
And the level of “commitment is varied; it’s based on the relationship. There are so many different [arrangement] terms. Some are platonic, some are romantic, and some are little more than a [requisite] weekly dinner.”
So why is it so popular at ASU?
“I feel like it’s just kind of the culture there,” Urick says. “It’s already ‘a who-you-know kind of town,’ [and] a big party school, reportedly with the most attractive females.”
Pile on top of that the recent tuition hikes and cuts in state funding, and as the cloud of college debt looms, more and more students are simply finding this to be "a viable option,” Urick says.
A New York Times story about sugar dating says, “Seeking Arrangement pays to have its ads pop up on search engines whenever someone types in ‘student loan,’ ‘tuition help,’ ‘college support,’ or ‘help with rent.’”
Urick says sugar dating "just seems really common at ASU," and it's popularity here and elsewhere shouldn't be a surprise.
(A media representative from ASU did not immediately return a request for comment.)
“Women in this country are often sold a fairy tale love story, and it’s not so crazy to want a man who can provide for that for you,” Urick says.
Sugar babies, she adds, are “able to bypass frat party guys, who can only give them dollar beers, to get the life they want.”