Rising tuition costs and mounting college debt have some college students in Ohio seeking an alternative way to pay for their education.
According to a new survey by SeekingArrangement.com, a dating site, six Ohio colleges are among the “Top fastest growing sugar baby schools,” where female students use “sugar daddies” to pay for college.
Miami University in Oxford ranked 75th. Survey experts say 96 female students have signed up to the dating website, looking to meet a “sugar daddy.”
“Forty-six joined in 2013 alone, which represents a 92 percent growth,” said Leroy Velasquez, public relations manager for SeekingArrangement.com
So what exactly is a “sugar daddy”?
“A sugar daddy is a generous benefactor whose willing to help add value to someone else’s life, and in the case of these college sugar babies, they earn an average of $3,000 a month, which is a huge amount especially for a college student without a steady income,” said Velasquez.
The dating website ranked the schools by the number of students who joined using “dot e-d-u” email addresses.
Officials say each relationship is unique, some are platonic and some are not.
“Sugar babies tell me it’s turned into something more romantic, it’s evolved into a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, we’ve even had sugar daddies and sugar babies send us wedding invitations,” said Velasquez.
Dani Smart, a junior at Miami University, called the sugar daddy concept “ridiculous.”
“Most of my friends take out loans or their parents help pay for college,” Smart said. “It’s kind of insulting that people would think that women would do that.”
Rachel Foos, a sophomore at Miami University, said she’d never heard of the website or the concept before.
“There could be some circumstances where that might happen,” Foos said. “I don’t want to say it’s completely unbelievable, but with scholarships and student aid, there are many more options out there.”
Every student interviewed by the Journal-News Tuesday said they’ve never met anyone or know of anyone on campus who has ever had a “sugar daddy.”
“It’s a pretty ridiculous claim, an insult to everyone,” said Ashley Horton, a senior at Miami University. “Our parents and everyone had to find a way to make a better life for themselves… I don’t believe the solution is finding a sugar daddy so much as finding your passion in life and being successful at it.”
Horton is scheduled to graduate from Miami University later this year and thanks to academic scholarships and help from her parents, she will have approximately $10,000 in debt.
Male students were surprised by the survey as well. Tamaz Jhashi said tuition has increased since he began four years ago and working a campus job, student loans and his parents are the main ways he pays for college. Jhashi, a senior economics major, jokingly said he may want to join the dating website to meet a “sugar mama.”
“I have to weigh the options, but I might consider it,” said Jhashi.
Miami University officials said they’ve kept tuition increases as low as possible “by reducing our operating costs through lean initiatives and efficiencies like buying supplies in tandem with other universities,” said Claire Wagner, a university spokesperson.
Wagner said at the Oxford campus, the base tuition and general fees for two semesters is $13,266.
“But three quarters of students pay less than that. In fact, factoring in financial aid (scholarships, grants and all sources), eight percent of Ohio students pay no tuition and fees,” said Wagner.
She estimates the average student debt is approximately $20,000.
Wagner points out that Miami University offers merit scholarship packages for top-ranked academic students.
“Sixty-three percent of the fall 2012 freshman class received a scholarship or grant from Miami University,” said Wagner.
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